This week in our WiC roundup: Free online summit for trans people in tech; speaking up as the only Black person in the room; COVID-19's job insecurity woes; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

July 31, 2020

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Female leaders bring higher profit margins

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Free online summit for trans people in tech; speaking up as the only Black person in the room; COVID-19's job insecurity woes; and more.

  • Being the only Black person, especially a Black woman, in the room in a tech workplace is not a rare occurrence, unfortunately. An anonymous columnist on Sifted, a UK startup news publication, wrote about their experience being the only person who looked like them at work, and found the experience challenging, to say the least. One of the recurring situations they found themselves in was having to stand up for themselves and speak out against racism, completely on their own, despite feeling uncomfortable and at times unsafe. The author wrote, "Speaking out about racism and microaggressions in an environment where you're the only or one of a few minorities is very difficult. There may be no one else to back you up, no one else to express their own discomfort. There may be no one else who understands why something is problematic. The burden will rest on you to a) call out the racism, b) educate everyone on why it's racist (i.e. prove it was racist), and c) convince everyone to change how they talk about or handle certain issues." This should not be the responsibility of minorities. Companies need to do better – particularly forward-thinking tech companies – in order to ensure that all employees feel safe and protected at work. (See WiCipedia: Black female founders take on VC discrimination.)

    • Yet as we all know, companies with women and people from different backgrounds simply make more money, so financially, it just makes sense to have a diverse workforce. An article on the BBC explained that companies with female execs make higher profits. The data comes from the Women Count 2020 research, and shows that companies with at least one-third female leaders make ten times more than companies with no women at the top in the UK. Ten times! If that's not enough to convince companies to hire more women (and make sure they stay and ascend the career ladder), then I don't know what is. Despite this info, in the UK only 5% of execs are female, leaving a lot of money on the table (£23.5 billion pre-tax profit, to be exact), and women unable to meet their career potentials. (See WiCipedia: Global female income hits all-time high, continues to rise.) Figure 1: Now that's my kind of ladder (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • Trans people in tech don't get nearly the attention that they should, and Angelica Ross, star of Netflix's Pose, is here to change that. CNET interviewed Angelica, who founded TransTech, a resource for LGBTQI people who aim to pursue a career in tech. The organization was launched way back in 2014, but it's seeing a boom lately as more attention is being paid to minorities in tech. This year marks the third annual, virtual TransTech Summit, which offers more than 50 workshops on breaking into the industry and succeeding as an LGBTQI worker, and remarkably, it's all offered for free for the 3,000 attendees due to public sponsors. Offering the summit for free seems like an important factor for Ross, who told CNET, "Technology saved my life. I was like, 'If this could work for me, this definitely could work for other folks.' ... As a black trans woman, technology was the catalyst to my development. Especially in my community, when it comes to employment, there can be a lot of energy that feels like hopelessness. But I am fueled by hope." If you're an LGBTQI person looking to break into tech, check out this online conference on November 14-15. More information can be found here. (See WiCipedia: New inclusivity report for LGBTQ workers.)

    • COVID-19 has put tech workers (not to mention everyone else) in a state of unease about the future of their employment. Tech Republic reports that based on a survey from Hired, "53% [of] tech talent in the San Francisco Bay Area are concerned about being laid off or furloughed, as are 42% of New Yorkers and 36% of UK respondents," with women (47%) overall more concerned than men (41%). And it's no coincidence that the highest percentage of tech workers concerned about their jobs reside in the startup tech capital of the world, yet the introduction of more flexible work arrangements from historically brick-and-mortar employers is piquing interest about moves to less-expensive locales. Particularly for female employees who are more likely to prioritize remote work over higher pay, the move to remote work – by which we mean permanent remote options, not just until there's a vaccine – will alleviate some anxiety about job security while also allowing employees a healthier life balance. Too bad it took a global pandemic for so many companies to wake up. (See WiCipedia: Women in tech roles hit hard by pandemic.)

      — 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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