WiCipedia: 'Persona Non Grata' Tech Moms & the Refugee STEM Pilot

This week in our WiC roundup: A man wears a minidress to work when shorts won't cut it; an inspiring pilot travels alone to spread the word of STEM; tech moms get no respect; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

June 30, 2017

5 Min Read
WiCipedia: 'Persona Non Grata' Tech Moms & the Refugee STEM Pilot

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: A man wears a minidress to work when shorts won't cut it; an inspiring pilot travels alone to spread the word of STEM; tech moms get no respect; 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!

  • The trouble with putting the emphasis on gender diversity is that women are often praised for being women in tech, not just being good at their jobs. Tristia Harrison, CEO at UK broadband provider TalkTalk , spoke out about this issue on a recent TalkTalk blog post. She also stressed that in time, women being the minority in tech will hopefully be a thing of the past: "Being a 'woman in tech' is something I'm incredibly proud of but I look forward to a time where it is no longer a label I wear, because women are no longer in the minority," Harrison wrote. TalkTalk has several initiatives for women in tech in the works currently. They all aim to increase visibility ("You can't be what you can't see"), maintain retention and put the spotlight on education and funding. (See TalkTalk Exec: Find Your North Star at Work.)

    • International Women in Engineering Day was celebrated worldwide last Friday, and in a roundup of women doing incredible things in STEM, NBC News profiled 29-year-old Shaesta Waiz. As the first certified female pilot from Afghanistan, Waiz was born in a refugee camp and escaped to the US with her family in 1987. At 18, she discovered aviation and has made it her life's mission to spread the STEM love. NBC News says, "Waiz started the non-profit organization 'Dreams Soar' to encourage girls to explore professional opportunities in STEM. 'Young girls don't know about these careers and they don't have a role model that inspires them to want to pursue engineering or STEM fields,' she said." The accomplished pilot is now flying solo on a trip consisting of 30 stops in 18 countries in roughly 90 days, with visits to the United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. (See Which States Have the Smallest Gender Gap in STEM Occupations? )

      Figure 2: Shaesta Waiz This woman could not be any cooler. This woman could not be any cooler.

    • Twenty-year-old Joey Bargeman was sent home from his job in the UK for wearing shorts on a scorching hot day. Told to change clothing before returning to work, Bargeman did what any rule-bending 20-something would do: He put on a minidress and headed back to the office while documenting his escapades on Twitter. Boing Boing reports that this approach worked in unexpected ways. Instead of sending him back home again, as Bargeman anticipated, the higher-ups "questioned the color of his dress, and said he could change back into his shorts." Bargeman took the high road and decided to remain in the dress for the rest of the day. (See WiCipedia: Equality, Fashion & Dads and WiCipedia: Rise of the Female CDO & Adidas Flip Flops.) Figure 1: Looks Breezy!

    • A forthcoming documentary, Looking for Leia, honors Star Wars fangirls around the world, CNET explains. The film's website describes the movie's goal as reaching "beyond Princess Leia to discuss how female characters and fans have shaped and expanded the Star Wars universe, and how these stories speak to experiences of gender resilience and resistance." It's not often we see strong female leads in movies, which is why the box office darling Wonder Woman has made recent headlines. Looking for Leia filmmaker Annalise Ophelian said this about why the film is so important: "I'm captivated by this idea of who gets to tell the story, whose gaze and whose narrative is centered. Women are so rarely the storytellers, and I love the idea of telling the story of Star Wars fandom from broadly diverse women's perspectives." (See Comic-Con 2016 in Pics: Jesus Loves Nerds.)

    • "Having it all," and arguments about whether it's actually possible or not, is something we hear about nearly every day. An article in The Guardian calls moms who work in the tech industry "persona non grata," which kind of makes it seem like having it all is a moot point. The article stresses that as a parent at a tech company, in order to be taken seriously, you need to pretend that you don't actually have children: "At most startups in Silicon Valley, to succeed as a parent, you have to pretend to fit in with the youth culture -- don't talk about your kids, participate in youthful activities, pull all-nighters, go out drinking with the team." With the expectation to work 24/7 and be "guinea pigs" for new maternity leave policies, the work-life balance does not seem to have hit its mark here. We'd love to hear about any experiences you may have had as a mom in tech in the comments section! (See WiCipedia: LL Awards, Tech Mom Returnships & How The Post Gets the Ladies and Vodafone's Doberneck: Put Policies Into Practice to Retain Women.)

      — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

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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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