October 12, 2018
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: How sexual harassment holds women back; California tech boards prepare for a shakedown; Bumble redefines tech company values; and more.
Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!
Many of us were glued to the news last week, carefully following the Brett Kavanaugh investigation. Since his confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday, not much has changed. Mid-scandal, Huffington Post published an article asking how sexual harassment keeps women down -- from politics to the boardroom and beyond. They came to the conclusion that in ignoring harassment claims, women were systematically shut out of the upper career echelons, and several prominent research studies have backed up this premise:
"Harvard Business does poll its graduates to see how their careers progress. And its survey has even drilled down into gender differences. Yet only recently have the Harvard survey's authors realized that they need to ask about sexual harassment. 'It wasn't on our radar,' said Colleen Ammerman, director of Harvard Business School's Gender Initiative, who worked on the study. Considering the omission in light of Me Too, 'we were shocked at ourselves,' she said. 'It's not something we really thought of.'" (See WiC Panel: Combatting Sexual Harassment in Denver and Bohling: Have the Conversation to End Harassment .)
Figure 1: A Wake-Up Call to All "Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. All the Republican members of that committee are male," says Huffington Post in its coverage of the event.
We've also been paying close attention to California's new board gender diversity law, which says that in the next three years, all companies headquartered in California will have to make some major moves to reshape the gender dynamics of their board of directors. More specifically, by the end of next year, boards must have at least one female board member, and by the end of 2021, "companies with five board members will need at least two female directors, and companies with six or more members will need at least three women," CIO Dive explains. The bill was signed last week by California Governor Jerry Brown, and observant consumers are wondering how this change -- which comes with some serious financial consequences if not followed -- will affect California's big tech sector. Check out the full article to see where major companies currently stand, and how far they have to go. (See SBA Leader: It's Time to Get Women on Board .)
There are certain small pockets of industry where women seem to be dominating, and healthcare tech is one of them. The Daily Herald says that women hold a slightly higher percentage of executive positions within the health sector, which is -- despite new technological advances -- an industry in which women have worked since the beginning of time. Experts attribute this success to two skills that people working in healthcare need -- empathy and critical thinking skills -- which women more likely possess than men. "Women often migrate to fields that develop those critical thinking skills, and if those skills can be combined with tech skills, women can do well," said Stephanie Simmons, vice president of people and culture at Solutionreach, a patient relationship management software platform. "There is no longer male and female careers. Everyone can be in any career," Jenifer Gordon, director of data quality and education at Klas, a healthcare research body, continued. (See WiCipedia: Gendered Job Descriptions, Glass Cliffs & Gaslighting.)
A recent executive awards program "dropped the ball" when it came to representing women in its list of nominees. The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council gala initially announced a mostly male line-up, which prompted outrage from the community. The prestigious awards program reevaluated its finalists list after hearing complaints, The Boston Globe noted, and the committee added women to all of the executive categories. "I feel super supported as a woman in tech and a woman in tech in Boston," Monique Bonner of Akamai -- and winner of the top marketing exec category -- said. "But I do think there are times when women in business and women in tech don't think to throw their hat in where there are places to promote your individual and team achievements." (See Announcing...WiC's 2018 Leading Lights Winners.)
Bumble has always been the outlier in the online dating sector. It was the first site where women had to message first, which happened to eliminate a lot of dumb men from the game. Yet Bumble isn't done innovating, Austin's Silicon Hills News reports. Its new goal? End misogyny. "We're doing that through a platform of connections but also building a brand, not just a tech company, but a brand that stands for empowerment, accountability, kindness, equality," Sarah Jones Simmer, chief operating officer of Bumble, said. We think every tech company should approach their business with these values. (See WiCipedia: Dongles, SXSW & Marital Status Bias.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading
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