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October 23, 2020
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: The Wing's co-founder issues a too-little-too-late apology to workers; incarcerated women struggle with tech access; the Israeli Army has questionable definitions of "women in tech"; and more.
Exclusive women's networking club The Wing was accused back in March for not exactly being what it seemed. The New York Times reported that while it appeared to be a welcoming if elitist picture of empowering perfection, under those blush-toned cushions there were darker and more discriminating hues for employees of color. And now, The Wing's Co-Founder, Audrey Gelman, has finally issued an apology. Business Insider reported that a public apology was given by Gelman, who blamed "her drive to be a 'feminist success'" for the company's racist workplace culture. Amidst a digital walkout of employees who went on to stage their own – albeit very tame – coup, Gelman sent an email explaining her actions: "Ultimately the prioritization of growth over culture came at the expense of women of color feeling empowered," Gelman said. "Inclusion was an elective, not the main curriculum." Gelman has since resigned from the company, which is also facing legal and financial troubles because of the pandemic's effect on in-person gatherings. (See WiCipedia: Working from home is bright spot of COVID-19 for many minority workers.) Figure 1: All that glitters is not gold (Source: Pixabay)
Gaining tech skills while incarcerated is not always an easy thing, but it's becoming more and more popular as reskilling programs gain momentum. The University of Kansas compiled the results of a study from scholars at the university which looked at the tech challenges of women transitioning from incarceration back to regular society. With limited access to basic technology while in prison and tech's rapid evolvement and advancements, it's understandable that this would be a difficult adaptation. Furthermore, many women who are released from prison still don't have reliable access to smart devices or Wi-Fi when they are on their own. Fortunately, small programs are underway in order to ameliorate this digital divide in the hopes that these women will return to society with tech skills, engage more fully with the community, and maybe even pursue a career in the industry. (See WiCipedia: Coding From Prison, Greedy Work & Woman-Led Companies.)
The Israeli Army has long said that 50% of its technical roles are filled by women, but a new report from Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the statistic may be skewed. While data released by the Army in 2019 showed that women made up half of technological positions (despite women only making up 38% of Army personnel), it was later learned that this was done by reworking the definition of a "technical position" to include jobs that simply included the use of technology. While this particular situation is unique to the Israeli Army, we can unfortunately also see how this tactic could be employed by individual companies looking to boost their women in tech stats. (See WiCipedia: Diversity in Product Dev & Israeli Entrepreneurs Protest Sexism.)
Girls in Tech, a leading nonprofit that aims to lessen the gender gap in STEM professions, has made some powerful board member additions, reports a press release. The organization, which routinely evaluates and updates its board, added two new board members, CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Raquel Tamez and SVP of Global Alliances at Trend Micro Sanjay Mehta. These additions bring experience in two issues that are front of mind lately: racial reckoning and cybersecurity. The organization sets a great example for how other companies should approach their board member assignments: "Girls in Tech regularly evaluates the composition of its board to ensure it includes the appropriate skills, experience and perspective needed to advance the organization's mission." (See Girls in Tech Adds to its Board of Directors.)
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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