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May 7, 2021
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: How to overcome implicit bias; Snapchat shares diversity report findings; sports tech nonprofit lobbies for women to join industry; and more.
Think you're open-minded? Think again, says NPR's Life Kit podcast, which just released an episode on open-mindedness and implicit bias. Here's why: Even the most self-proclaimed open-minded people are saddled with implicit bias (defined as "when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge") because of the cultures we've been raised in, but that doesn't mean we can't work on bettering ourselves. This is a huge issue for minorities in tech sectors, and while we can't always control companies' approaches to managing bias, we can still work on our own. The podcast recommends five tips to overcome bias, including honestly assessing and recognizing where you're starting from, honing curiosity, managing calmness, spending time with other open-minded people, and last but not least, possibly even trying ayahuasca (not a joke!) to open up your brainwaves. Wanna see how you rank on the implicit bias scale pre-psychoactive tonics? Check out this test from Harvard University. (See WiCipedia: Breaking Biases & Squashing Self-Limiting Fear.) Figure 1: Odd one out (Source: Pixabay)
An article on IBC picks apart the idea that a focus on diversity automatically leads to an inclusive community. While diversity is clearly needed in the predominantly white male tech industry, without focusing on inclusiveness first, it's unlikely to lead to lasting change. Rather, the root of the issue needs to be addressed. But what is the root? Is it the pipeline we so often hear about, or access or discrimination or even just plain lack of interest? Alicia Pritchett, M+E strategy at Fastly and president and founder of Women in Streaming Media, explained, "The idea that certain people are not interested in tech is a dangerous concept. Stereotype threat influences performances at a very early age, particularly for women. Black women are one of the best educated groups in the US, yet people still think there is a problem with the pipeline. The pipeline factor truly is a myth that we maintain because we do not want to look at the stereotypes or biases in our hiring processes." In other words, implicit bias. (See WiCipedia: The lack of women in tech is bigger than a 'pipeline problem'.)
Snapchat (yep, someone is still using this social media platform apparently!) recently released its second annual diversity report. The company, which explains that progress was somewhat slowed down by the pandemic, made some notable leaps, particularly in the representation of women. Leadership roles for women increased from 6.7% to 13.7% at the company in 2020, and the number of Black women in all roles increased from 2% to 5.1%. The Board of Directors even achieved 50% female representation (up from 37.5%). Pretty impressive, right? On the flipside, LatinX and Asian representation slid ever so slightly across the board. Snap Inc., parent company of Snapchat, has vowed to increase its minority representation numbers and meet new goals by 2025. (See WiCipedia: Diversity is about more than checking boxes.)
Did you know that sports tech – essentially the marriage of sports and STEM – is an industry expected to climb to a valuation of $30 billion in the next three years? Neither did we. Forbes explains that the burgeoning industry is chugging along, and some want to make sure that women are included in the journey. Nonprofit organization Women In Sports Tech is currently working to unveil a range of different collaborations, all with the goal of attracting and retaining women in the industry through fellowships, mentorships and other initiatives. The founder and CEO of WiST, Marilou McFarlane, told Forbes, "What we really want to do is impact and influence culture. It doesn't matter if you just check a box and bring in the lonely only. We want to help employers understand the importance of diversity, and really inclusion in terms of culture." (See WiCipedia: 'Gender is embedded in the job'.)
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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