This week in our WiC roundup: Women's role in climate tech; how Black women are affected by AI; Women in Tech's monumental pandemic growth; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

April 23, 2021

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Climate tech needs more women on its team

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Women's role in climate tech; how Black women are affected by AI; Women in Tech's monumental pandemic growth; and more.

  • It's hard to pinpoint the percentage of climate tech workers who identify as female, but if the numbers are anything like the rest of tech, we need more. GreenBiz recently published an article explaining the many unique reasons why we need more women (and other minorities) working in tech on climate change as well as spotlighting women who are already working hard to create change in the industry. The author states, "When [women] start to earn more, [they] tend to reinvest that money into their families and communities – 90 percent of their earnings, as Project Drawdown explains, compared to 30 to 40 percent for men. [Ed. note: Holy crap that's a big difference!] They also are more equipped with the vital skills to adapt and be resilient to climate change when disaster strikes, and to influence how their communities mitigate against it." Those sound like pretty strong qualifications to us! Also a great way to celebrate Earth Day. (See WiCipedia: Minority numbers in STEM studies still lag.) Figure 1: Green tech, climate tech, clean tech... Call it what you will, the industry needs more women at the helm. (Source: Pixabay) Call it what you will, the industry needs more women at the helm.
    (Source: Pixabay)

    • The evolution of AI has not been kind to Black women, explains an article in VentureBeat titled "Black women, AI, and overcoming historical patterns of abuse." From facial recognition technology failing to have the capability to recognize Black women's faces, to Black female AI researchers being fired when they begin to dig too deep into ethics, some may go so far as to say that Big Brother AI has it out for this minority group. Despite the many wrongs it has perpetrated, AI undoubtedly plays a huge role in our society's future, and this widespread disease needs a cure. Enter the Abuse and Misogynoir Playbook, published earlier in 2021 by three MIT researchers in the hopes of uncovering these injustices and inciting change. The authors write, "We call on the AI ethics community to take responsibility for rooting out white supremacy and sexism in our community, as well as to eradicate their downstream effects in data products... This work begins by recognizing and interrupting the tactics outlined in the playbook – along with the institutional apparatus – that works to disbelieve, dismiss, gaslight, discredit, silence, and erase the leadership of Black women." (See WiCipedia: Are ethics in AI a losing game?)

    • Think all businesses have suffered during the pandemic? That's not the case for Women Who Code. Hypepotamus explains that the Atlanta-based nonprofit expanded its reach to 122 countries with more than 250,000 members this past year, all remotely. Though previously their growth was largely based on in-person events, the organization – which focuses on teaching women tech skills and connecting them with career opportunities – focused all of their efforts on the power of remote work and the unparalleled flexibility that it offers. "In Atlanta, we are incredibly fortunate to have the tech community to support us and the expertise here to create amazing leadership events. But when you think about small towns and other countries around the world that don't have access to resources like Women Who Code, making that available suddenly increases our reach and impact. So this really hard moment has enabled us to serve our broader community," CEO and Co-Founder Alaina Percival said. (See WiCipedia: Women leave workforce in droves due to pandemic and burnout.)

    • It's easy to say that for women to excel in tech and break through the glass ceiling, they just need more confidence, but is that really the barrier to entry or success or just an easy excuse for those in charge? An article in Computing suggests that the confidence argument is a cheap cop-out: "This narrative around confidence being a quality that women instinctively lack is a seductive one for businesses because it allows those around the executive table – still likely to be predominantly populated by white men – to claim that the problem isn't structural," the author states. The article attributes women getting stuck in entry-level positions, leaving tech jobs at mid-career points to family reasons and a lack of diversity and inclusion resulting in microaggressions or just flat-out aggressions as much more potent reasons for the lack of women in the industry. (See WiCipedia: Fake it till you make it – the confidence edition.)

      — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Eryn Leavens

Special Features & Copy Editor

Eryn Leavens, who joined Light Reading in January 2015, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before earning her BA in creative writing and studio arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. She also completed UC Berkeley Extension's Professional Sequence in Editing.

She stumbled into tech copy editing after red-penning her way through several Bay Area book publishers, including Chronicle Books, Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull Press and Seal Press. She spends her free time lifting heavy things, growing her own food, animal wrangling and throwing bowls on the pottery wheel. She lives in Alameda, Calif., with two cats and two greyhounds.

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