This week in our WiC roundup: Girls in tech go online for new skills; women are more affected than men in pandemic layoffs; data gaps have serious implications; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

April 17, 2020

3 Min Read
WiCipedia: COVID-19 layoffs affect women more

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Girls in tech go online for new skills; women are more affected than men in pandemic layoffs; data gaps have serious implications; and more.

  • Coronavirus may physically affect more men than women, but economically, women are taking a harder hit. Business Insider reports that 60% of the massive amount of Americans (more than 70,000 jobs) laid off in the past two months have been women. Many of the jobs were in the leisure and hospitality industries, as restaurants, hotels and airlines essentially shut down. Tech jobs, on the other hand, which are made up of majority male workers, translate easier to work-from-home positions, and losses (so far) have been less widespread. Just one more reason why gender equality in tech is more important than ever. (See WiCipedia: Gender equality is imperative in city planning.) Figure 1: Closed restaurants mean laid-off workers (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • The #MeToo movement may have made a dent in Hollywood, but the verdict is still out on whether it changed how Silicon Valley operates. An article on Medium delves into the topic, and surmises that while MeToo may have given tech outsiders a glimpse into the issues with sexism and harassment in the industry, it did little to change the behavior of the "powerful and privileged in Silicon Valley." And the attempts at putting a spotlight on diversity just aren't cutting it. The author writes, "Companies have mostly approached imbalanced statistics through highly publicized diversity and inclusion efforts that aim to solve the problem through internal workshops, designated executive hires and diversity reports. But in the wake of Silicon Valley's own #MeToo movement, casually cruel, sexist, and racist tendencies run rampant in the industry's subtleties, invisible in the statistics and present even without the most extreme versions of a 'disruptor' mentality." (See WiCipedia: Data Bias in Space, #MeToo Backlash & Childhood Conditioning.)

    • Speaking of which, ZTE found itself in a scandal this week when a director resigned his position due to rape allegations. Lawyer Yuming Bao is currently under investigation for rape of a 14-year-old girl who was living with him against her will. ZTE said it was "concerned about the news reports" and forced Bao to resign. Bao has been involved with many major telecom companies, including Cisco. See this Light Reading article for the full story.

    • Much like Zoom meetings and happy hours, formerly in-person events for kids are also being moved to the small screens. InnovateHer, a UK-based group that aims to bring STEM learning to girls who are interested in tech, is bringing its courses to the screen for the duration of the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate. Classes will be focused on solving pandemic-related problems with technology, and will include mentoring groups and coaching sessions. Australia's Code Like a Girl is also jumping on the online bandwagon with virtual puzzles, which teach girls eight and up how to code. There's no time like quarantine to learn a new skill! (See WiCipedia: 'Zoombombers' create video conferencing nightmare.)

    • Data bias is nothing new, though the research in Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men by Caroline Criado-Perez is groundbreaking. Forbes reviewed the book and explained that "decisions that impact every aspect of our lives are based on the absence of gender-disaggregated data," which is shortsighted and creates a dangerous situation for everyone except the white male data model. Criado-Perez presents solutions specifically for businesses to narrow the data gap, particularly in the technology sector. As she puts it, "until you have the data, you can't address the discrimination," so there's no way to solve the employment gender gap in tech without first gathering all of the relevant information. (See WiCipedia: Digital assistants need more than a gender makeover.)

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

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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