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WiCipedia: What's it like being the only girl in STEM class?

This week in our WiC roundup: Nearly half of women feel they are overlooked for promotions; there's a new CEO in robot-land; and what it's like being the only girl in class.

Eryn Leavens

July 30, 2021

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: What's it like being the only girl in STEM class?

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Nearly half of women feel they are overlooked for promotions; there's a new CEO in robot-land; and what it's like being the only girl in class.

  • Imagine being the only girl in a STEM class and having to deal with male students joking about consent and sexual assault. That's what happened to Kristen, who also happened to have a large social media following and promptly recorded and posted the overheard conversation on TikTok, Daily Dot reported. While the video seems to have been taken down, it was up long enough to be shared all over the Internet, get more than 50,000 views and rack up 7,000 comments on Reddit. "After the video was shared to Reddit, women commenters shared that they have had similar experiences in classes predominantly filled with boys or men – engineering, game art, and computer science were all listed as examples. Some said the behavior led to them dropping out or switching majors entirely. 'I started college in pursuit of a [computer] degree but quickly abandoned that idea when it became obvious how miserable I'd be as a woman in the field for the rest of my life,' [Reddit user] u/LVII admitted. 'I do not have the ability to shrug that shit off.' The overall sentiment in the comments on both TikTok and Reddit was that the type of behavior sends a red flag to women while men insist their comments are nothing more than harmless jokes." Why would young women want to enter the tech industry when they see this in the news or on social media? (See WiCipedia: You can't become what you don't see.) Figure 1: (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • The majority (84%) of tech employees don't think that the products their companies produce are inclusive for minorities, VentureBeat reports. While that's the overwhelming bulk of tech workers, tech execs (who make up a much smaller percentage of the survey base), are less likely to fess up, with only 18% admitting there might be inclusivity gaps. Yet the evidence of a lack of inclusivity is clear, with "sexist Google features and racist Snapchat filters" galore, and not enough women or racial minorities designing products to call out the inequality. "Time after time, people wonder, 'why didn't anyone notice this?' Across subfields, technologists are sounding the alarm about the dangers of homogenous teams that can't and don't account for the experiences of underrepresented groups," the article states. (See WiCipedia: How to tackle implicit bias and the 'lonely only'.)

    • A whopping 44% of women in tech say that they have been overlooked for a promotion due to their gender, a new study reports. The data comprised responses from women in tech in four different countries, and took the temperature of inequality in the industry at large from women's perspectives. For example, 38% of women don't apply for jobs because they don't feel they meet all of the qualifications required in job postings, while another 45% don't feel they are paid the same salaries as male counterparts. Nearly 60% of women cited responsibilities at home as having hampered their careers, which is why more women than ever are also starting their own businesses for flexibility and work-life balance. It seems that if jobs can't be fixed, many women will create their own. (See WiCipedia: Women leave workforce in droves due to pandemic and burnout.)

    • It's cause for celebration whenever a woman becomes CEO of a tech company. Fortune reports that one of the most recent celebrations was for Wendy Tan White, a tech founder, investor and executive who has been tapped by Alphabet to head robotics company Intrinsic. The company will focus on the future of robotics software for companies to complete simple tasks, though they don't currently have a specific product they're working on. Tan White is one of just a handful of BIPOC female CEOs in tech, and with a background of working towards equity for women in tech, she certainly understands the pressures that her new role will hold: "I take the responsibility seriously," says Tan White. "I know that Alphabet is a big, impactful company in the world." (See WiCipedia: Google employees protest and unionize.)

      — 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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