January 8, 2021
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Google workers start to unionize; female keynoters take over a virtual CES; 2021 tech events for women; and more.
Google employees are fed up with the tech behemoth and have started unionizing in the New Year, an article in The New York Times explains. While joining unions isn't common in the US for such white-collar jobs, hundreds of employees have banded together in outrage over Google's lack of response to numerous claims of sexual harassment and unequal pay. Employees are coming together with the help of The Alphabet Workers Union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, a group that represents telecom and media workers. In an op-ed from organizers also in The Times, employees explain that massive payoffs for executives accused of harassment are creating discriminatory and unfair work environments for minorities at the company, "especially Black, brown, queer, trans, disabled, and women workers." While the union is still quite small, we have a feeling this may be a growing trend in 2021. (See WiCipedia: Are ethics in AI a losing game?) Figure 1: Next steps Protests at Google over unfair treatment started in 2018, but they didn't bring the resolutions that employees wanted.
Another Bay Area tech company, Coinbase, has recently come under fire for paying female and Black workers far less than White male employees. The New York Times reports that the cryptocurrency startup paid women an average of $13,000 (8%) less than male counterparts and Black employees were paid $11,500 (7%) less. While there are similar pay gaps at most tech companies, these gaps are quite a bit larger. Coinbase employees aren't standing for the culture at the company either, which has continued despite criticism. "More than 60 employees — or 5 percent of the company — resigned this fall after [Coinbase's Chief Executive] Mr. Armstrong put in place new policies restricting employees from discussing noncompany politics and social issues during work," the article states. (See WiCipedia: The ever-rising glass ceiling.)
CES is making waves this year. In its COVID-style virtual format, the mega tech event is enlisting female speakers for six out of nine keynotes. The Las Vegas Review-Journal explains that it wasn't long ago that the agenda for CES didn't list even one female keynoter, so to get to more than half represents major progress on the diversity front (and reflects a lot of pressure from attendees and the media). The event has received criticism in the past for being so male-dominated, and organizers even blamed the issue on the "limited pool" of women in the industry, though they have stated that they always search for diverse speakers when putting together the show. This year's virtual format may have made it easier for an array of different types of speakers to participate, so it'll be interesting to see if CES can carry on this achievement in future, in-person events as well. (See WiCipedia: 'You Are Either Sexually Objectified or the Housewife' – MWC19.)
If you're interested in other virtual and (possibly?) in-person conferences for women to attend in 2021, check out this list from CIO, which has compiled 20 of the must-attend events of the year in one place. There are events for specific minority groups, awards events, networking events, coding events and more – if there's a tech topic you are interested in focusing on you'll find it here! (See WiCipedia: Falling short of the 2020 gender equality goal.)
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