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WiCipedia: Is there an alternative to imposter syndrome?

This week in our WiC roundup: How to avoid imposter syndrome; fundraising for good; what it takes to build a diverse team; and more.

Eryn Leavens

December 4, 2020

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Is there an alternative to imposter syndrome?

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: How to avoid imposter syndrome; fundraising for good; what it takes to build a diverse team; and more.

  • Ellen Pao, co-founder of Project Include and poster child for the lack of gender diversity in tech, was recently profiled by CNBC. She spoke about her brief time as CEO of Reddit, and how imposter syndrome – the elephant in the room for so many women with big jobs – impacts her and has shaped her experiences in tech. Yet Ellen claimed that it didn't have as much of an effect as many would think, and it was for one specific reason: "As CEO of Reddit, I didn't have imposter syndrome," Pao said. "I always thought, 'I've seen so many horrible male CEOs. I've seen so many horrible male board members.'" While one study claims that three quarters of female leaders deal with imposter syndrome, maybe the cure for it is right in front of them: Just look around to see how badly some of their male counterparts are doing for a reality check. (See WiCipedia: Tech's Litigation 'Wake-Up Call' & Gates Donates $1B for Gender Equality.) Figure 1: Ineptitude is in the eye of the beholder (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • A new report has found that bias around female entrepreneurs is rampant in tech, and creates barriers for an inclusive and diverse industry. BetaKit reported the findings from the report "Women Entrepreneurs Beyond the Stereotypes," which was borne out of research from Canada's Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. Many of the findings were expected – for instance, we all know that men get a leg up in the VC process and acquire way more funding than their female counterparts. Yet others were less expected, such as how little women are even mentioned in articles about entrepreneurship, and how that affects "Structural issues, systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and stereotypes of entrepreneurs," said Wendy Cukier, founder of the Diversity Institute. "Stereotypes also shape the way programs are designed, who they serve and how financing and investment decisions are made," Cukier added. The report included suggestions for how we may be able to mitigate these biases and create more opportunities for women. (See WiCipedia: Breaking through barriers and smashing inequality.)

    • "Hacker houses," basically the real-world version of a bunch of techies living in a house together, are apparently the new hip thing during COVID. Since so many people are isolated and working from home, many in the tech world have created pods of like-minded people. Yet the Womxn Ignite house is one-of-a-kind, intended for undergraduate women and gender non-binary folks who are studying computer science and are ready to pod up. TechCrunch explains that college juniors Coco Sack and Kendall Titus started Womxn Ignite as a "live-in incubator" for college students, and every week there are mentor sessions, speakers and presentations. The program charges a $5,000 entry fee but many participants were sponsored by investors. Though diversity was a priority in choosing participants (only 20 out of 500 applicants were selected), everyone came from a top-tier or Ivy League school. (See WiCipedia: Alternative College & Male Separatism.)

    • Nonprofit organization All Raise has just raised $11 million (out of a $15 million goal), reports The New York Times. The company was formed by a small group of female VCs in 2018 in order to focus on getting women equal pay and equal opportunity in tech and increasing the amount of female VCs. This is the group's second major fundraising effort and will be put toward expansion efforts through 2024. While change takes time, the group is on a mission to level the playing field as quickly as possible. "We are not going to take hundreds of years of stereotyping and systemic oppression and turn that around overnight. But are we making more tangible progress? Yes," said Pam Kostka, All Raise's chief executive. "We're moving as aggressively as we can to change the ecosystem." (See WiCipedia: Founders battle anti-racism, fight for equal-opportunity funding.)

    • So how does a company truly create an inclusive workforce? GOOP profiled Etsy, a company that has continually broken the mold in terms of online retail and also diversity among its employees. More than half of Etsy's employees identify as female (including the executive team), and they are rapidly expanding the percentage of racial minorities on staff as well. But it isn't easy, and according to Adetoro Ceballos, Etsy's head of diversity and inclusion programming, it comes down to intention: "True inclusion requires questioning our assumptions, correcting one-size-fits-all approaches, understanding data-driven approaches to retention, engagement, and career development, and engaging honestly to make our workplaces more equitable and inclusive for all." If you're interested in learning how to truly build an inclusive workforce from a company that has actually done it successfully, we highly recommend reading this interview. (See WiCipedia: Networking helps get women on boards.)

      — 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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