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WiCipedia: Silicon Valley's Vanity Problem

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Melinda Gates makes moves for gender equality; getting highly paid people more money; Silicon Valley's issue with ageing and imperfection; and more.

  • There's ageism and sexism and momism and racism... so what happens when you combine all of these into one giant ism? "Vanity," says writer Matt Haber in Inc. The article explains that "A growing obsession with youthfulness and physical perfection among founders and their charges may undermine the sustainability of their companies," and it's an issue that's impacting the tech industry in a big way. With such an emphasis on vitality and stay-up-all-night energy in the sector, no wonder no one wants to look like they're over 35. Women get hit the hardest in the vanity boom and are prone to more scathing and inappropriate criticisms, though men aren't immune to the pressures. Our culture idolizes mega-billionaires who create products we didn't know we needed (and still don't know what to do with), and these men (Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg...) are idolized in a way that no real person could live up to. Make sure to check out the Inc. article for examples of this and a list of the sexiest (very young) startup CEOs alive -- not to be missed. (See WiCipedia: Ageism, Diversity Training & Tackling Algorithms.)

    Who's the Fairest CEO of Them All?
    (Source: Pixabay)
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • Another Silicon Valley exposé has recently hit the stacks and details tech's toxic culture and dark underbelly. Anna Wiener penned Uncanny Valley after her time working customer support at an unnamed SF-based data analysis startup and then again at an open source startup. A review in The Atlantic describes Wiener's colleagues as nearly all young white men -- confident and egotistical to a fault. While there have been a bevy of tech startup books published in the past few years, all equally riveting and informative about the veiled tech wonderland of Silicon Valley, Uncanny Valley offers a slightly more relatable read as it's from a tech outsider's perspective. That said, the findings of harassment, inequality, poor work-life balance -- the list goes on and on -- are exactly the same across the board. (See WiCipedia: Beyond Brotopia, Huggle's All-Female Team & Diversity Ratings.)

  • A new tool aims to make sure that equal pay is the new norm, at least in tech. HR Dive explains that Ascend, a compensation advisory firm, has come out with a new paid tool specifically for female senior-level tech professionals who wish to level up on the pay scale -- or at least confirm that they aren't being paid less than they should be getting. 10x Ascend is technically a gender-indiscriminate service, however, Ascend states that "it wants to help end gender-based pay disparities by providing women with the data needed to negotiate salaries that are on par with their male counterparts." While most job candidates (somewhere in the range of 64%-67%) simply accept the first salary offer on the table, those who pushed back on their initial offering gained an extra $5,000 boost per year. Not too shabby. (See WiCipedia: CES Recap, Salary Reveals & Outdated Advertising.)

  • Melinda Gates has been making headway for women in tech for decades, and her Pivotal Ventures project may just be the cherry on the cake. Gates previously announced that Pivotal would be stockpiling $1 billion for advancing women in tech, though she didn't specify exactly how it would be used. Fortune has just revealed that $50 million of the lump sum will go towards "creating 'inclusive tech hubs' in Chicago and two other yet-to-be-named cities, over the next five years." Titled the "Gender Equality in Tech Cities initiative," the program will focus on creating new tech hubs (buh bye Silicon Valley) for women with computing degrees, and the money will be routed through incubators and universities that currently focus on these topics. "As the tech industry continues to expand beyond Silicon Valley to other areas across the country, we have the opportunity to reimagine what the sector could look like," Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post. "If these emerging tech hubs are supported to prioritize women's representation and inclusion as they grow, they will be better positioned to tap into the full range of local talent, while also helping create a blueprint for closing the industry's gender gap nationwide." (See WiCipedia: Tech's Litigation 'Wake-Up Call' & Gates Donates $1B for Gender Equality.)

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

  • ErynLeavens 2/3/2020 | 12:52:21 PM
    Re: Vanity problem Oh I wouldn't hesitate to say that MOST things that we talk about here extend to other industries, and are often far worse as so many tech jobs are so high paying. The "face" of the company has always been important, though for tech it does seem like a newer thing. I think the transition from using models for everything to instead using "real people" is quite unrealistic when the real people aren't so real though...
    Kelsey Ziser 1/31/2020 | 3:43:22 PM
    Vanity problem The Inc. article on Vanity was really interesting. I think the vanity problem extends beyond tech, too. I remember reading an article about Jessica Alba's company Honest and thinking that's nice you're in an office with a plant wall and surrounded by beautiful people but do your products work and are they affordable for middle Americans? I can't handle the GOOP advertisements either with Paltrow pushing $400 face creams and eternal youth. Of course makeup/skin care companies are supposed to promote a youthful look but what these companies have in common with some of the tech overlords is this idea of bluring the line between engineer/entrepreneur and celebrity. It's not enough to have a great tech idea anymore, you yourself also have to be marketable it seems. Or find a figure head who is.
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