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WiCipedia: Tips for Female Conference Speakers & How Women Impact Product Dev

This week in our WiC roundup: Female conference-goers can maximize experience with engagement; girls are the future of security tech; more women needed in health tech industry; and more.

Eryn Leavens

September 13, 2019

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Tips for Female Conference Speakers & How Women Impact Product Dev

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Female conference-goers can maximize experience with engagement; girls are the future of security tech; more women needed in health tech industry; and more.

  • It's conference season, and female keynoters are notoriously few and far between. Tech Republic addressed this topic with some tips for women speaking at conferences -- who account for only 25% of keynoters and are often the only woman on the panel. The article suggested that the work of networking doesn't start when you get to the conference; rather, connecting with other female attendees and speakers before the conference via social media is an advantageous move. Once on-site, it's important to support and engage any other women present. While there are many changes that conference coordinators could make for women to attend and feel more welcome in male-dominated spaces, for now, it's largely up to female participants to ensure that they are setting themselves up for success and reducing the likelihood of awkward or uncomfortable situations. (See WiCipedia: Programmer Motivators, Affordable Childcare & All-Female Panels.) Figure 1: About to Enter a Sea of Men? Heed these tips before your arrival. (Source: Pixabay) Heed these tips before your arrival.
    (Source: Pixabay)

    • In order for health tech -- currently a booming industry -- to help women, products need to be designed by women, which can be a difficult goal in the male-dominated product dev space. Yet the payoffs are enormous. For example, an article on ABC discussed the strides being made in breast cancer tech designed by a female cybernetics student who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the cancer. Kathy Reid developed the "Sense Breast," which monitors the health of cancer survivors via a wearable that transmits health information. "I think if we had more women in technology, particularly older women -- who are the cohort that is most often diagnosed with breast cancer -- I suspect we would have seen something like this a little bit sooner." (See WiCipedia: Diversity in Product Dev & Israeli Entrepreneurs Protest Sexism.)

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    • Are middle-school girls the answer to security tech's many woes? Possibly, or at least Mastercard thinks so. CNBC explains that the credit card company "is betting on middle school girls to detect cyberthreats and protect our personal data." No small feat. It's taking action through its Girls4Tech program, which has a goal of getting 1 million girls into tech in the next six years through employee mentorship in middle schools all over the world. Mastercard states that women are currently in control of most discretionary spending, and that percentage will only increase (to nearly 75%) in the next decade, so it would make sense that girls should be at the forefront of safeguarding our financial information, specifically via cybersecurity, AI, encryption, fraud detection, biometrics and data analysis. Yet Dana Lorberg, executive vice president of operations and technology at Mastercard, said, "Finding a woman in cybersecurity is like finding a unicorn. How can we possibly create products that are good for consumers if we don't have representation of that gender in the decision-making and engineering processes?" It's time for change. (See Ovum: Women Poised to Close Tech Skills Gap.)

    • Spelman College, the historically black college for women located in Atlanta, was recently granted funding by the Dept. of Defense to build a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, Yahoo Finance reports. The Center will focus on research support, academic enrichment and professional development via mentorship opportunities for undergrad students and staff, and will incorporate artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning. "The Center aligns with the College's strategic priorities and ensures that our students are empowered and equipped to enter competitive STEM fields," said Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell. "We are honored to be awarded this grant, and to have the support of the Department of Defense in assisting Spelman in fulfilling its mission to diversify STEM." (See WiCipedia: Alternative College & Male Separatism.)

    • This coming week, Monday, September 16 through Friday, September 20, marks National Coding Week, recognized in many major countries. If you're looking to get involved, there are many activities already set up all over the world. CodingWeek.org offers a bevy of resources for individuals and organizations in the UK, where the event seems to be most lively, and you can also start your own meetup to learn coding or teach the skill if events aren't already listed in your area. (See WiCipedia: Using Tech for Good, the Scully Effect & Google's Clock Is Ticking.)

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

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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