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WiCipedia: Women find opportunities for entrepreneurship in pandemicWiCipedia: Women find opportunities for entrepreneurship in pandemic

This week in our WiC roundup: Amazon fails minority employees; BT works with Code First Girls to provide upskill courses; pandemic creates founder boom; and more.

Eryn Leavens

March 5, 2021

3 Min Read
WiCipedia: Women find opportunities for entrepreneurship in pandemic

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Amazon fails minority employees; BT works with Code First Girls to provide upskill courses; pandemic creates founder boom; and more.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the female workforce much more than it has male counterparts, but it has also created opportunities to reinvent the way we work. Tech Republic explains that while women left their careers at an alarming rate over the past year in order to care for family members, they also reimagined work by creating flexible, remote, entrepreneurial work arrangements – because they had to. Even in generally more flexible tech roles, women often branched out. In fact, women claimed the title "founder" twice as much this year as they did pre-pandemic. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention. (See WiCipedia: COVID-19 layoffs affect women more.) Figure 1: Making lemonade out of a global pandemic (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • BT is launching a new strategic partnership with Code First Girls. The UK organization aims to increase tech training for women in order to close the skills gap. BT will be providing Code Girls First with funding as well as assistance in training courses for more than 900 women. The upskilling courses, which include coding classes, are offered for free with BT's funding assistance. Cathryn Ross, group regulatory affairs director at BT Group, and sponsor of BT's TechWomen program, said, "It is critically important that our tech sector reflects the diversity of the society it serves. At BT, as a leading UK technology company, we are playing our part to help close the gender skills gap in tech." (See WiCipedia: 'Damaging myths' about differences persist.)

    • Consumers may love Amazon's ease of ordering and rapid delivery, but Amazon insiders aren't fans of the company's treatment of minority corporate employees. According to Vox, Black employees at Amazon are routinely promoted less frequently than white employees as well as given tougher criticism in reviews. Chanin Kelly-Rae, the company's former global manager of diversity, told Vox, "Amazon was not doing things in a way that represents best practices that would advance diversity and inclusion in any way that is meaningful and thoughtful. Let me add: Amazon appeared to be taking steps backward instead of forward." While Amazon refutes these findings and HR states that "We work hard to build an inclusive culture that welcomes, celebrates, and values all people," there are simply too many employee reports of mistreatment and bias to accept this excuse as good enough. (See WiCipedia: Is Trump going to end diversity training in tech?)

    • Built-In compiled a list of things that need to change for women to succeed in STEM. After all, "Women are more than twice as likely to transition out of a role in technology, and half leave the space altogether by the age of 35" – not exactly promising numbers. While the goal of getting and keeping women in the industry may be large, the individual goals aren't all that daunting. It really comes down to creating opportunities for mentorship, getting women already in tech into leadership roles in order to set an example and eliminating gender bias. Sounds a bit like things that should already be happening, doesn't it? (See WiCipedia: Breaking through barriers and smashing inequality.)

      — 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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