July 14, 2017
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Scantily clad robots and Ashton Kutcher make headlines; Say bye-bye to White House science; Will Gen Z close the gap?; and more.
Do you have a story – positive or negative – to share about being a woman in comms? Let us know, and take our quick survey about your experiences, right here. Anonymous submissions welcome, and the next 25 survey takers to share their email address will receive a Starbucks gift certificate!
We've heard far-flung estimates about when the gender gap in tech will officially close, but a new article from Tech.Co estimates it may be sooner than we thought. Generation Z, those post-millennial go-getters, are taking their education pretty seriously, which is quite impressive in this student debt wasteland we seem to be living in. "For the first time ever, female engineering majors outnumbered males in the US," reports the article. While the education numbers are indeed inspiring, the article seems to be giving the big-name companies too much credit for their efforts, which have yet to result in much action: "With tech giants like Google and Facebook spending millions on promoting women in their company, it's only a matter of time before the gender gap is a thing of the past." That's what we keep telling ourselves... (See Which States Have the Smallest Gender Gap in STEM Occupations? , Does Facebook Have a Code for Gender Bias? and Google Shares Gender-Blind Pay Policies.)
It's not like everyone is so on board with the gender parity issue though; some old-schoolers seem to still be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to gender roles, even when they apply to robots. San Francisco's W Hotel advertised a startup event last weekend featuring a topless robot and a "summer seduction lingerie fashion show," USA Today details. The event, while informal, was intended for networking and pitching. In other inappropriate but somehow amusing news, Yahoo Australia posted a slideshow titled "Tech Nerds and Their Hot Wives," because we all need something to aspire to. (See Why We Need Diversity Before AI Takes Over and WiCipedia: UK's Crackdown & a Go-Go No-Go.)
Figure 1: Tweet of the Week In the future, this robot is the ideal woman.
Ashton Kutcher, an actor who famously crossed his way over into venture capital, has made another timely gaffe with comments about workplace appropriateness. Kutcher proposed a series of questions in an attempt to define some rules around equal treatment, The Huffington Post says, but they seem to have seriously backfired. HuffPo writes, "Kutcher's first question, though, is a doozy: 'What are the Rules for dating in the workplace? Flirting? What are the clear red lines?' he wonders. This simply should not be the first question on such an important issue as bringing more diverse entrepreneurs into a key part of the economy. It also fails to recognize that sexual harassment is a power issue -- not a dating issue." See below for the full list of Kutcher's proposed questions. (See Hey Men of Silicon Valley, Stop Being Creepy!, Two Twits Tweet and Another Showbiz Nightmare.) Figure 2: Who wants to bet that Kutcher attended the aforementioned Robot Lingerie event?!
How can we improve funding for female entrepreneurs when the guys with the cash are all certified doofuses (doofi?)? Forbes published an article addressing this very question. So what's the first step? Don't ask stupid questions. From there, it gets a bit more complicated. Certainly, investors need the same gender bias training as everyone else, and increasing the number of female investors may just be key. In the meantime, since that isn't an overnight solution, investors who continue to hear the stories of women who have faced harassment and discrimination in a VC environment may think twice before their next inappropriate or unfair encounter. (See WiCipedia: Queen of Code, Female VCs & STEM Expectations.)
In more official news, the White House Science Dept. is now kaput. Brit + Co attributes the shutdown to the current presidential administration's shaky relationship with (i.e., belief of) science and general downsizing. The article states that this loss is particularly bad for women because we are losing advocates and mentors; prominent, successful scientists who young girls could look up to and emulate. There's also something missing now that we really hadn't considered: "Fewer women in these fields means bad news for the rest of us ... Not having that diversity in place can be literally deadly. Think we're kidding? Women were killed by the first generation of airbags because the designers and engineers forgot that women are generally shorter than men and are closer to the steering wheel. For decades, heart disease and heart attacks were considered a guy's problem and, as such, most research focused on them and not enough on women." This is serious business. (See WiCipedia: Uber's Catalyst for Change & Trump Signs STEM Bills and WiCipedia: Icelandic Inequality, Diminishing WiT & Presidential Impact.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading
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