WiCipedia: Richest Women in Tech & Next-Level Hacker Sexism

This week in our WiC roundup: Forbes releases its Richest Tech Billionaires list; hackers win most sexist in tech award; pilots fight for maternity rights; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

August 19, 2016

5 Min Read
WiCipedia: Richest Women in Tech & Next-Level Hacker Sexism

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Forbes releases its Richest Tech Billionaires list; hackers win most sexist in tech award; pilots fight for maternity rights; 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!

  • Forbes' list of the richest people in tech came out last week, and surprise, surprise, it wasn't exactly overrun by women. The top earners were all US-based men and household names, including Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Bill Gates, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s Jeff Bezos and Facebook 's Mark Zuckerberg. Only five women climbed their way to the top, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise 's Meg Whitman (of eBay fortune and fame) and Judy Faulkner of Epic Systems. The inclusion of any women on the list is of course monumental, but we'd like to see a more evenly distributed list in the future. And yet, progress is being made. As Forbes puts it, "Amidst sobering numbers like these, one offers new promise. Since 2005, the number of women who are world leaders -- presidents or heads of state -- had more than doubled by last year." With progress comes power. (See WiCipedia: Rise of the Female CDO & Adidas Flip Flops.)

    • Hackers, the sometimes good, sometimes bad, but almost always male underground contingent of the tech scene, have given themselves a pretty bad rap with their recent antics at Defcon, the yearly Las Vegas hacker-vention. CNET reports that this year's event got out of hand with sexual Jeopardy (see image below) and women who served not as colleagues, but as actual servants. The game was not well received, and the image below was retweeted more than 900 times. "Female attendees at the conference also began posting about their experiences of being harassed, insulted and excluded at the conference this year and in years past." Debra Farber, who attended Defcon as a representative of Women in Security and Privacy, said about the conference, "I felt like women took 20 steps back." (See WiCipedia: Big Leagues & Small Screens Take On Gender Parity.)

      Figure 1: Doesn't This Make You Want to Be a Hacker?

    • We don't talk much about pilots on Women in Comms, but women pilots' struggle to attain basic maternity rights caught our attention this week. According to The New York Times, "Pilots are exempt from a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to accommodate new mothers." That means no paid maternity leave and nowhere to breastfeed or pump milk. This is a relatively recent issue for the major airlines, where pilots are still predominantly male (the first female pilot was hired by American Airlines in 1973), and the women who rule the friendly skies are now starting to come after the airlines about their "archaic" policies. This push for materity rights has prompted the airlines to implement a few changes, like allowing pregnant pilots to fly longer into their pregnancies, but the big changes are still preparing for takeoff. (See Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits and Vodafone's Doberneck: Put Policies Into Practice to Retain Women.)

    • The phrase "take a seat at the table" probably sounds familiar to you; in fact, it's a frequent bit of advice that we hear from female execs in our Mentor Monday interviews. A piece in The Huffington Post by Karen Hough, CEO of ImprovEdge, took a very literal stance on this saying. Hough told a story about a group of young girls whom she brought to the stage of a panel discussion that had recently wrapped up, and encouraged them to take seats. They naturally started interviewing each other and answering questions, and vowed to be back in those seats again soon. In contrast, a women who had never had this experience walked into a boardroom and "immediately took a seat in the back... One seat at the board table remained empty, and eventually the organizers got annoyed, waiting for the last leader to arrive. They finally realized she was sitting in the back with the admins. They had to tell this intelligent, hardworking woman that she was the leader whose chair was still empty at the table." Everyone can help women feel they deserve this rightful seat, even men. (See WiCipedia: Victory in a 'Culture of Victimology', Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table and Join Women in Comms, Intel, XO, Vodafone, Windstream & Zayo for Breakfast in Denver.)

    • We've all been there: You craft an exceptional, outstanding resume (take a look at this one for Marissa Mayer!) only to never hear back from the hiring manager. What's an inventive, tech-savvy job hunter to do? Jessica Rose, a self-professed "technology personmon," created a Pokémon Go-themed trading card resume to showcase her creative and trendsetting talents, Gadgette reports. Yet what stood out to us even more was Jess's website, Jessica.Tech. While most job seekers clearly state what they are looking for, Jess took it a step further and laid out what she's not looking for as well, including "A role with poor work/life balance," "To work in a toxic environment" and "A combat-heavy culture." Knowing your priorities and what won't work for you may be just as important as chasing after that fancy title after all. (See Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: Pokémon Go Fan and Pokémon Go Is Just the Beginning: Wait Until VR's on 5G!)

      — 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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