WiCipedia: From Virtual Reality to Virtually No Black Women

This week in our WiC roundup: virtual solutions to real hiring problems; the dearth of black female startup founders; the top tech companies for women; and more.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

February 19, 2016

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: From Virtual Reality to Virtually No Black Women

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: virtual solutions to real hiring problems; the dearth of black female startup founders; the top tech companies for women; and more.

Women in Comms' first networking breakfast of the year will be taking place on March 10 in Denver. Register here to join!

  • It only makes sense for the tech industry to use tech to solve its gender problems, and one answer might lie in virtual reality. Katharine Zaleski, the co-founder and president of PowerToFly, suggests in a Quartz column that using virtual reality to mask an applicant's gender in the job interview process could help eliminate bias. Candidates would instead use avatar names, and their gender and race would not have to be revealed until the final stages of hiring. It could be one way to combat the sad reality we covered last week -- that women on GitHub's code was accepted less often when their gender was obvious, but more often when it was hidden. (See WiCipedia: Open Source Favoritism, Fairygod Bosses & Crooked Credit Checks.)

    • Here's some fresh statistics to sour your Friday coffee: There are only 88 tech startups led by black women in the US. That's 4% of the only 2,200 women-led startups here, according to a new study from digitalundivided. This is compared to the 1.5 million US businesses owned by black women, up 322% from 1997. And CNN Money says that these startups have attracted around $36,000 in funding on average, compared to the $1.3 million the average failed startups attract. From 2012 to 2014, black female founders made up 0.2% of all venture capital deals. Eleven of the 88 have raised $1 million or more, but nine of those had previously worked for an established tech company. (See Honoring Women in Comms' Leading Lights to nominate female-led startups in for a WiC Leading Lights award.)

    • Fairygodboss.com, that "Yelp for maternity leave" we also mentioned last week, has ranked the top ten places for women to work based on the reviews of its members on things like how they are treated, family-friendly policies and work/life balance. Here are the top 10 in order, but keep in mind that no company scored more than a 4.1 out of 5, so there's clearly room for improvement everywhere: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Salesforce.com Inc. , Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL).

    • Facebook kicked off a global effort to improve women's safety online with a roundtable in Kenya earlier this month. Its goal is to create a harassment-free online environment where everyone can feel safe to share and interact. It's starting its efforts across Africa, but plans to extend them to reach 100 countries in time. (See Facebook Focuses on Women's Safety Online .)

    • Most of the mobile industry will be descending on Barcelona this weekend for the start of Mobile World Congress, the industry's largest annual convention, and there will be plenty of opportunities for women to connect and network.

      First off, Women in Comms is co-hosting a networking happy hour with WiC member SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) this Sunday, February 21, at the Ajoblanco Restaurant in Barcelona ahead of Light Reading's own party. RSVP here to join us.

      The GSM Association (GSMA) is also hosting its Connected Women program with Accenture , featuring panel discussions on the barriers women face in the mobile industry, networking events and a large booth presence for the initiative. (See SAP Tweaks Its Software to Improve Recruiting .)

      — Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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