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WiCipedia: Connectivity should be a right for allWiCipedia: Connectivity should be a right for all

This week in our WiC roundup: International Women in Engineering Day highlights disparities; Pride Month marches on with the Queer 50 list; women far more unlikely to have access to Internet than men; and more.

Eryn Leavens

June 25, 2021

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Connectivity should be a right for all

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: International Women in Engineering Day highlights disparities; Pride Month marches on with the Queer 50 list; women far more unlikely to have access to Internet than men; and more.

  • New data from the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report shows that mobile Internet usage in South Asia has grown 4% over the past year, despite the many obstacles thrown up by the pandemic. South Asia reports one of the highest gender gaps of Internet usage between men and women in the world, with women less likely to have access to mobile Internet by about 50%, though women are also much more likely to only have Internet access by phone, especially in low-income areas. Yet even when they have the same education and background as male counterparts, women are less likely to have access to a mobile phone at all, creating an immediate inequality. "If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical," said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. Connectivity should be a right for all. (See WiCipedia: UN Calls for Women's Access to Tech & Men's Bad 'Tudes Halt Diversity.)

Figure 1: Access for all is way overdue (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

While only 10% of executive-level jobs at tech companies are currently held by women, that doesn't mean there's no hope for female-founded companies. Just ask Idit Levine, a software engineer who founded cloud-management company Solo.io on her own. In an interview, Levine talks about her experience as a woman in tech working for startups, how she acquired $23 million in funding for Solo and her plans for the future of the minority-led company. Levine initially moved to the US from Israel in order to support her husband's career, and soon figured out through working for other companies that she had a passion for tech that required branching out on her own. "I got to that point when I realized that I really enjoy what I'm doing, I really had a good idea and I knew I had the ability to lead a company of my own," Levine said. No imposter syndrome here! (See WiCipedia: 'Gender is embedded in the job'.) This week marked International Women in Engineering Day. The Society of Women Engineers website explains that the day is intended for celebrating the accomplishments of female engineers in a male-dominated field and also for expanding the diversity reach of minorities in the industry. As of late 2019, only 13% of engineers identify as women, and they earn 10% less than their male counterparts. Those who are in the industry aren't likely to stay for the long haul either: Only 30% of female engineers remain in the industry after 20 years, with an additional 32% of female STEM college students switching to a different major in the middle of their studies. Moreover, about a third of female engineers cite "company culture" as their reason for leaving the industry. (See WiCipedia: Breaking through barriers and smashing inequality.) We're still celebrating Pride Month for another week, so it's perfect timing for Fast Company's second annual Queer 50 list of some of the most innovative "LGBTQ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech." Created in collaboration with Lesbians Who Tech, the list celebrates trailblazers in a variety of industries who have paved a unique and memorable path. The list is incredibly diverse and transcends tech into entertainment, finance, retail and more. Many of the major household name companies have someone on the list, and those who don't should take heed: While diversity isn't about "tokenizing" any one minority group or hiring someone just because of their minority status, having a team of straight white dudes in suits is so 2020. "This is a full-stack problem and will take a lot of effort to fix it. Everyone has a role to play in closing the gap and leading the way for the next generation in STEM," said Caitlin Kalinowski, head of hardware for Oculus and a notable name on the list. (See WiCipedia: New inclusivity report for LGBTQ workers.) — 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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