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April 30, 2021
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Conferences go virtual this year; the tech industry's fundamental flaw; getting girls access to the Internet; and more.
A recent article in The Nation argues that the way the tech industry is set up is fundamentally flawed and detrimental to the success of women and other minorities. The issue seems to stem from what work is valued, a very different valuation system than what work is actually necessary. For example, women are often in support roles. Without these positions, companies would not even be able to operate, yet they rarely get much (if any) credit. While this issue isn't exclusive to the industry, Silicon Valley seems to have run wild with it. "If the corporate culture recognizes certain jobs as 'male' (having to do with the platform, the product and the genius vision) and 'female' (care, content and communication), then it won't take long for those who try to buck the pattern to be treated as interlopers," the author of the article states, based on research from various studies. Essentially, the problem is "the way gender is embedded in the job." Explains why the issue is so difficult to tackle, doesn't it? (See WiCipedia: Breaking through barriers and smashing inequality.) Figure 1: Flawed from the get-go (Source: Pixabay)
A new report on women in tech spanning responses from more than 60 countries shares major insights into the role of technology in the lives of women around the world. The #SheTransformsTech report was compiled with the resources of 27 company partners, and takes into account a huge range of topics, including how COVID-19 has impacted the tech landscape, Internet access, online harassment and improving skills for minority groups such as people with disabilities. A whopping 90% of respondents stated that technology had made a positive impact on their lives, yet tales of harassment also ran rampant in the responses, and many women said they had shut down online accounts due to the abuse (a full three quarters reported experiencing online harassment). Half of respondents stated that Internet access was an issue. Partner company World Pulse's Founder and CEO Jensine Larsen said, "Taken together, these voices call for nothing less than a fundamental realignment of the priorities of the technology industry and urge us to wake up to the vast leadership potential of women coming online globally to shape a better technology future for us all." (See WiCipedia: The lack of women in tech is bigger than a 'pipeline problem'.)
There's a big focus right now on providing girls with tech access in the hopes of getting more women into tech careers. A press release explains that The Women Tech Council (WTC) has recently launched the SheTech Live Virtual Summit in order to reach high schoolers and accelerate this mission. While the summit is usually in person, this year it has gone virtual. The program will help pair girls with mentors and role models so they can envision a future career in tech, as well as share resources and compete in STEM competitions. Globally, 17% more men and boys have access to the Internet, so connection is a pressing and definable issue that needs to be resolved quickly. Cydni Tetro, president of WTC, said, "Showing these girls strong women creating new technologies, leading companies and doing fascinating things in STEM alters the path of their lives, their families, their communities, the entire technology sector, and the global economy." (See WiCipedia: 'Damaging myths' about differences persist.)
Likewise, the yearly AnitaB.org Grace Hopper Celebration is normally an in-person event not to be missed, but the pandemic has taken it virtual this year. Held May 25-27, a press release explains that the nonprofit, which focuses on women in tech, will host this virtual event for participants in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Most notably, internationally renowned human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai will be participating in a fireside talk with AnitaB.org President and CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson at the event. Wilkerson said, "We are thrilled to host Ms. Yousafzai as our missions to promote the education and empowerment of all women are so closely aligned. The elevation of women's rights, especially in technology, has never been more important. Ms. Yousafzai's renowned power to reach and inspire through her words will bring our community's network to the next level." Check out the website for full details and to register for the upcoming event. (See WiCipedia: Black Tech Fest 20 is the place to be.)
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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