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WiCipedia: Empty Restrooms, Mom 2.0 Summit & 'Brilliant Jerks' Culture

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Conference restroom lines show gender disparity; the best companies for millennial women; men in tech who committed sexual harassment or assault are likely to get big new jobs; and more.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is spearheaded by a lot of white men, yet efforts to diversify the field are falling short. Technology Review reports that "AI's white guy problem isn't going away," and that the consequences for the future of tech could be dire. "The problem of a lack of diversity in tech ... has reached a new and urgent inflection point," said Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of research institute AI Now. "Millions of people are feeling the effects of these tools and are affected by any AI bias that gets baked into them." AI Now published a report on the epidemic this week titled "Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race, and Power in AI," which homes in on why the issue is occurring and recommendations to right the wrongs. (See WiCipedia: The AI Diversity Struggle, Companies Aren't Prioritizing Equality & New-Mom Decisions.)

  • Short lines for women's restrooms at tech conferences are back in the news again as female attendees are shocked at the lack of gender diversity. The Ladders explains that when Lin Classon, director of public cloud product at Ensono, attended the Amazon Web Services conference in 2017, she snapped the below photo to illustrate the scarcity of women. So Ensono did some research and found -- among other attendance data -- that women were only 25% of standalone speakers at conferences on average, and that there's only been a 4% increase in this number in the past few years. Yet female speakers are highly sought-after from an attendee perspective: "76% of women are more likely to attend a conference with a keynote speaker, panelist, or other type of program that features a woman." Yikes! Sounds like a chicken and egg scenario to us. (See WiCipedia: Best Places to Work & Restroom Lines Tell All.)

  • Being a mom and working in tech is not always the easiest combo, which is why the Mom 2.0 Summit is such a hit. Started by two moms in Austin ten years ago, Mom 2.0 brings together women who are looking to break into tech. Austin360 says that the event hosts an impressive list of (surprisingly unpaid) celebrity speakers (Brené Brown!!) and offers supportive, informative how-to workshops on topics such as blogging and YouTube. And this isn't your average conference setting, as you can imagine. "[The organizers] are intentional about how they plan the event. They build in networking time, coffee time and, if you want, nap time ... They also train all the staff, including the hotel staff, to never say no to the attendees." Now that's our kind of conference! (See WiCipedia: Careers After Kids, Int'l Women's Day & Minority Founders.)

  • Wondering how to snag the trendiest of tech job titles this year, a.k.a. Head of Diversity and Inclusion? In a podcast interview with Candice Morgan, head of inclusion and diversity at Pinterest, Career Contessa says this in-demand role is more than just a token diversity title, and outlines what it takes to call it your own. You can check out the full podcast here. And if you're tired of the only-woman-in-the-room struggle and looking to work for a company that's already got their gender diversity game in order, check out Mogul's list of the top ten tech companies for millennial women. (See WiCipedia: Companies With Values Should Be the Norm.)

  • The #MeToo explosion left many accused men rightfully jobless -- but news has it they've already snagged their next gigs. According to Buzzfeed, wrongdoings were simply swept under the rug in many cases, and several of the most notorious tech execs are back in highfalutin positions. Uber's Eyal Gutentag, Social Finance's Mike Cagney, VC Shervin Pishevar, 500 Startups' Dave McClure and more -- all of whom were accused of sexual harassment, have all found (or founded) new homes in tech, and have reportedly "learned their lessons." Yet Cowboy Ventures Partner Aileen Lee states that this isn't an issue of learning a lesson. Instead, it's the industry's habit of being "tolerant of a 'brilliant jerks' culture." It's hard to say what would break this culture if the #MeToo movement has not. (See Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims.)

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

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