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July 22, 2016
This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Facebook reveals its LGBT employee stats; Microsoft's HoloLens insults through advertising; ladies in tech get a whole new lexicon; 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!
Facebook has been in the hot seat lately for its lack of diversity hiring (despite well-publicized efforts) and blatant sexism. For the first time ever, it has released its stats on LGBT employees, which self-reportedly make up 7% of the company (though only 61% of employees responded to the optional survey). While IB Times and Yahoo seem to think this number is paltry, compared to the 3.6% of Americans and 6.2% of San Francisco Bay Area residents who self-report as LGBT, according to Gallup, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook is actually doing pretty well in the sexual orientation diversity department. This is in contrast to its stagnant racial diversity statistics. IB Times stated, "The company blamed the challenges in diversifying its work place on lack of qualified recruits as the main problem," a statement that only fanned the flames. (See WiCipedia: Hogrammers, Cleavage & Finding a Niche.)
Video gaming has historically been an extremely male-dominated sub-field of the tech industry. The games themselves aren't very encouraging to women, depicting them as "sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence," according to a 2014 Salon article about sexism in gaming culture. Ironically, Kotaku reports that "Half of gamers are women, [yet men] constitute seventy-five per cent of the game workforce. On the design side, that percentage is much higher. Pay gaps in the tens of thousands run rampant." But the gaming industry may have some changes ahead. The Verge reports that France is attempting to regulate the violence towards women in games, and a book titled Women in Game Development has just been released. Its goal is to bring more women into the industry by sharing the stories of 31 game dev women who are killing it, on screen at least. Real-life examples of success stories may just be what the industry needs to break through to the inner sanctum men have created in this exclusive trade. (See Axonista CEO Turns TV Habit Into Startup Success.)
Microsoft's HoloLens has made some dubious choices in its latest advertising campaign, implying that the device will be used in very different ways by men and women. On the HoloLens site, men are shown engaging with complicated software and apps while women stare at Grumpy Cat and take photos of furniture. Men explore far-off lands while women revel in unicorns and rainbows. HoloLens has only recently been made available for consumer purchase, and this very gendered approach is an interesting way to gain sales. As Mic.com puts it, "These depictions of men and women reinforce gender stereotypes that exist in Silicon Valley -- and it's not Microsoft's first jaunt down sexism lane." (See WiCipedia: Victory in a 'Culture of Victimology', Microsoft Gets Baked in Cannabis Cloud and WiCipedia: UK's Crackdown & a Go-Go No-Go.)
Figure 1: Manly stuff vs. Grumpy Cat Figure 2:
Theranos, the quick-and-easy lab test company out of Silicon Valley, has been on quite the bumpy road for the past few weeks, and CEO Elizabeth Holmes is at the heart of it, reports Forbes. Holmes has been banned from owning a lab for the next two years, and Theranos is essentially kaput after a faulty test potentially put a man's life at risk, following at least two previous lawsuits. Holmes has long been an advocate of other women in tech and was chosen by the White House as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, according to Fortune. (See WiCipedia: Big Names Band Together & #NoWomanEver and Clinton Tech Plan Draws Sharp Contrast to Trump's Thinking.)
We talked last week about Facebook's use of the distasteful term "hogrammer," the feminized form of "brogrammer," but maybe that was just the beginning of a whole new lexicon to describe the rare woman who works on the technical side of tech. Enter "broette" -- since we all really needed a female version of the word "bro." Eve Batey of SFist has a particular problem with how this word has been feminized: "The suffixes 'et' (that's the masculine) and 'ette' (the feminine) are known as 'diminutive suffixes', that is, a suffix appended to the end of a noun to connote that something is smaller, or less. For example, a teeny-tiny water 'drop' becomes a 'droplet,' or a kitchen that isn't a full one becomes a 'kitchenette.' " So basically, broettes are just mini bros. (See Boingo Cultivates a New Spirit and WiCipedia: Equality, Fashion & Dads .)
And since we now have our own separate but (maybe not so) equal vocabulary, why not invent a smartphone for "tiny lady hands"? Meet the already much ridiculed Keecoo K1, a very pink phone made just for "dainty" women and our extensive selfie needs. Who's on board?! (See The Gold-Plated iPhone.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading
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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