Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Wrapping Up 2016, Vocal Fry & Pinterest Diversity

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Looking back on 2016 and forward to 2017; the implications of vocal fry; Pinterest lowers diversity goal; and more.

Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!

  • It's well documented that there's a tremendous pay and equality gap between men and women who work in tech. What's less well known is the job satisfaction level of women in the industry. Are we thankful for what we have, or are we dissatisfied because it simply isn't enough? Silicon Angle reports that "most women in tech report overall satisfaction with their jobs," according to market research agency Kantar TNS's study on the subject. What may surprise some is that the demographic that's most unfulfilled is women who are just starting out in their careers, most likely because "gender bias and a lack of female mentors may be factors." What's the cure? Mentorship! If you're a career newbie, reach out to someone who might be a good mentor fit for you. If you're a more experienced employee, take a fledgling worker under your wing. It's a win-win situation! (See Making Mentoring a Priority.)

  • On a creakier note, vocal fry has come back into the limelight as 2016 draws to a close, Templar Advisors explains. Reminiscent of the 1980s Valley Girl voice but on the lower end of the spectrum and with a more noticeable warble, vocal fry is all the rage among young women these days. Yet while some people view it as an annoying, bored, reality TV-esque way of talking that could potentially set women back in their careers, an older study of college-aged Americans from American Speech "perceive[d] female creaky voice as hesitant, nonaggressive, and informal but also educated, urban-oriented, and upwardly mobile." So which is it? Watch the video below for several demonstrations of what this "accent" sounds like, and let us know in the comments if you think it's a boon or a bust for being taken seriously when speaking. (See Mentor Monday: OPNFV's Kirksey Brings Men Into WiC.)

  • Women tend to use online media and social media more than men do, but they often aren't the ones creating it behind the scenes. Pinterest is a social network that's especially female leading, with between 62% and 80% of users identifying as women, Think Digital First reports. And guess what? Only 26% of Pinterest engineers are female, Inc. says. While the company initially had a goal to bring this number up to 30% in 2017, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has just announced that the goal will be lowered instead: "Heading into 2017, Pinterest said it will maintain its goals for people of color but will lower its ambitions for women in tech, saying it hopes to increase its hiring rate of that demographic to 25 percent of its tech hires next year." That said, these numbers are far higher than any other major company in the tech space, which is not something to be overlooked. (See WiCipedia: Big Names Band Together & #NoWomanEver .)

  • It's much easier to focus on what's not going well for women in tech -- after all, there's just so much to choose from! Yet as we near the end of 2016, we also want to reflect on the good that has happened over this tumultuous, momentous year. TechDay has published a brilliant infographic and report titled "Was 2016 the Breakthrough Year for Women in Tech?," and while the verdict is still out, we've definitely made inroads to equality. For example, tons of research has been done this year in order to train, retain and promote women in the workforce. While we may not instantly see the benefits of that research, future women in tech will surely benefit. There's also a sizeable difference in the percentage of women starting companies (up 68% since 2012) and studying computer science (up 21% since 2000), but these numbers make up a much smaller piece of the pie compared to men. So as we've often said before, we've done great things this year, and there's so much work left to be done. (See Was 2016 the Breakthrough Year for Women in Tech?)

  • Looking ahead, 2017 just may be the year of the rise of women in tech, at least according to Danielle Newnham, founder of The Junto Network, in a LinkedIn post. Newnham espouses women in 2017 for a multitude of reasons, one being that when you hit rock bottom, it only makes sense to rise back up -- or what she calls reaching a "crisis point." She elaborates: "Diversity in the tech sector as a whole (not just women), in all its power and glory, will rise and thrive in 2017, and prove what we knew all along. That we are the lifeblood for the types of innovation the world so desperately needs right now." Amen to that, and happy New Year to all! (See SBA Leader: It's Time to Get Women on Board and WiCipedia: How to Make Companies Work for Women.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

  • Kelsey Ziser 12/22/2016 | 4:17:56 PM
    Vocal fry needs to go Great video and description of vocal fry, really summed it up well. I'd have to agree with the NPR reporter, I find vocal fry to be extremely irritating...I always wondered why all the Kardashian sisters sounded the same (even their mom?!?!) ;)

    Vocal fry comes across as stuck up and disingenuous - why would you want to sound like everyone else? I've made a concerted effort to avoid vocal upticks/upspeak as well which I think is something a lot of women struggle with (where your voice raises, often when you're nervous, and everything you say starts to sound like a question). 

    On the flip side, this piece on NPR's Fresh Air makes a good point that "People are busy policing women's language and nobody is policing older or younger men's language." 
    Sign In