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October 11, 2019
This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Lawsuits may be tech's "wake-up call"; coming out as trans in tech; Melinda Gates dedicates cash for a cause; and more.
TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco was this past week, and some heavy hitters addressed diversity in tech on the main stage. CNET explained that Ellen Pao, co-founder of Project Include, and Tracy Chou, software engineer and diversity advocate, discussed ethics (or the lack thereof) in tech, and how to get the industry to comply with basic values. "For a long time, [tech] was just a small part of society," Chou said. "And now tech is very dominant and needs to be much more accountable to what it's doing." Pao suggested that "litigation could be the wake-up call some companies need to be more ethical." (See WiCipedia: Endangered Species, 'the Pao Effect' & Bad Actors and WiCipedia: Social Skills Boost Opportunity & the Emergence of Diversity Data.) Figure 1: Laying Down the Law ...for gender equality.
Also last week was the Grace Hopper Celebration, touted as the largest gathering for (mostly) women in tech with more than 26,000 people present. NBC News explains that the Celebration "also doubles as a job market" with recruiters from more than 300 companies setting up booths to talk to attendees. Yet those with shaky reputations -- often from recent sexism scandals -- were on the defense when it came to interviews. "Word spreads pretty quickly about bad cultures," said Catherine Tan, a 21-year-old UCLA electrical engineering major. NBC News explained that Tan "learned other crucial bits of information -- the names of a few other companies where she might avoid working in the future, as she and co-workers swapped what they knew about the latest misconduct allegations swirling around the scandal-plagued tech industry." Just like T-Swift, some big tech companies have big reputations. (See WiCipedia: The Whitest Black Candidates & Conferences Take a Political Stand.)
When is being a woman in tech a privileged position? When you're a trans woman in tech. Joan Westenberg, a tech writer and journalist, shares her experience of feeling fearful of safety and job security "even in the most progressive workplaces" in an article on Wired. Considering that a survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality "found that up to 26 percent of transgender respondents had lost their job through bias and discrimination and 50 percent had been harassed on the job," this is a valid concern. Many of the major tech companies have been reported for trans-bias and discrimination, so Joan asks, if trans people are lucky enough to pass, when is it safe for them to disclose that they're trans? (See WiCipedia: Open Office Fishbowls & Trans Women in Tech.)
Melinda Gates is at it again with her new pledge of $1 billion for gender equality, she announced in an article in Time. Gates explains that while we're in a journalistic heyday of writing about diversity and equality in tech and beyond, her nightmare is that one day that will all be in the past and nothing will have changed. She continues, "There is too much at stake to allow that to happen. Too many people -- women and men -- have worked too hard to get us this far. And there are too many possible solutions we haven't tried yet. That's why, over the next ten years, I am committing $1 billion to expanding women's power and influence in the United States." Check out the full article to see where that moolah will be headed over the next decade. (See WiCipedia: Lyft Assesses Diversity Growth & Melinda Gates Tackles Gender Imbalance.)
— 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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