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September 4, 2020
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: The new and improved Grace Hopper Celebration goes online; cultural change is needed for gender equality; Black women in tech face challenge after challenge; and more.
Tech at large had a "gender equality by 2020 goal" back in the day, and now that we've reached that milestone (and absolutely no one is happy with the way this year has gone so far), what does the industry have to show, parity-wise? Not much, says The Conversation. "By and large, the tech field doesn't need to fix women, it needs to fix itself," the article states. And it's true: We focus so much on bootcamps for coding and returnship programs, but women aren't the ones who need to do the work – the system does. Without a cultural upheaval, women don't stand a chance. As long as women are still paid a fraction of their male counterparts' wages and only one out of every four keynoters are female, the numbers aren't going to see much change. (See WiCipedia: How tech can evolve beyond performative activism.) Figure 1: 2020 was not a year for goal-setting achievements (Source: Pixabay)
With the racial reckoning that the US is facing this summer, it makes sense that there would be more of a spotlight than ever on Black women in tech. In an article on the topic, Built In focuses on the actual "pipeline problem," and why it's not as simple as getting people of color on the educational tech train at a young age. It turns out that Black and Hispanic workers who study computer science in college often opt out of careers in tech or engineering to take their talents to a different industry. This is likely not because of lack of education or ability, but due to recruitment bias and daunting job descriptions for tech jobs. Not to mention recruiters who judge candidates based on the university they are graduating from (as racial wealth gaps often keep minorities out of Ivy League schools), flat-out networking nepotism and cultural fit. It's time to move past these antiquated hiring tactics and instead base decisions on who will do the best work. (See WiCipedia: Founders battle anti-racism, fight for equal-opportunity funding.)
The annual Grace Hopper Celebration may have gone virtual this year, but it sure hasn't backed down from heavy-hitting keynoters (helloooo Serena Williams!), jam-packed sessions or skyrocketing attendance numbers. Yahoo reports that the conference may actually boast double the attendance numbers of last year (including at least 9,000 pre-registered students) due to the easier-to-access online format, and will focus on the usual topics of mentoring, negotiating and networking, as well as health and wellness in the context of COVID-19. Brenda Darden Wilkerson, president and CEO of AnitaB.org, said about the new conference format: "In the past, it's been about how do we fit in? It's going to be more important that tech understands that all the things that we bring are the things that are important to help tech be successful, because tech impacts just about every part of our lives." (See WiCipedia: Grace Hopper Promotes Diversity, Girl Scouts Code & How to Thrive.)
A new series of books called Ella the Engineer is designed to get young girls interested in STEM. Staten Island Live reports that Deloitte and The Ella Project have collaborated to create the series and a set of learning tools, led by Staten Islander Anthony Onesto, an accomplished HR pro in the tech world. Named after Anthony's daughter, Ella is "a fearless young girl who uses science and technology to solve problems and save the day." What kid wouldn't want to follow her lead? (See Staten Islander's 'Ella the Engineer' series and Deloitte provide virtual STEM learning.)
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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