Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Coming back stronger post-COVID

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Ada Lovelace Day reminds us of the power of coming back stronger than before; tone-deaf ads can't stop won't stop; all the ways to learn how to code from home; and more.

  • This Tuesday was Ada Lovelace Day, the yearly celebration in the UK and beyond of women who work in male-dominated STEM professions. But this year is a bit different than most as the COVID-19 pandemic has deprived many people of their jobs and livelihoods. Reports show that women have been hit hardest by the pandemic, as they are often held responsible for the tasks that keep their families and households afloat in addition to their careers. In response, the BBC interviewed women in tech in the UK to find out how their day-to-day lives have adapted to working from home, losing jobs, health concerns and more. Many said it has been the hardest year of their life so far, yet several said they had hope and had been able to restructure their businesses and lives to adapt to the changes. Suw Charman-Anderson, the founder of Ada Lovelace Day, said, "Covid forced us to rethink everything. And some of the changes we've made may become permanent. 2020 has been a hard slog. And we're not out of the woods yet. But I hope we'll emerge stronger and able to reach and support more women in Stem." (See WiCipedia: COVID-19 layoffs affect women more.)

  • Despite all the progress made in gender equality at work in recent years, sexist ads still somehow exist. Another article on BBC News explains that an ad from CyberFirst, a program from the National Cyber Security Centre in the UK, depicts a ballerina putting on toe shoes and says, "Fatima's next job could be in cyber (she just doesn't know it yet). Rethink. Reskill. Reboot." If the point was that everyone will need to reskill before the next industrial wave and that the arts will be dead, why couldn't it have featured a male basketball player? Unless this was released by a marketing team of one, we really aren't sure how this ad got published. (See WiCipedia: Glass Ceiling Justice, Tech on TV & the Dark Ages of Advertising.)

  • While it would be nice to envision that the majority would advocate for the minority, especially at work, that's not always the reality. Men will not always speak up for women, white people will not always speak up for BIPOC and heterosexual people will not always speak up for LGBTQ people. This is where self-advocacy comes in. Though many people who identify as a minority may be tired of self-advocating, sometimes there's no other choice. Built In interviewed women in tech about their strategies for self-advocacy, and compiled a list of different ways to speak up and stand out. Several of the women who were interviewed said that their tactics did not form overnight, rather, they took practice and honing to become effective and manageable. From creating transparent records of accomplishments to not being afraid to move on in order to find the right fit, this is a list of tips worth combing through if you're struggling to find your own advocacy path. (See WiCipedia: New inclusivity report for LGBTQ workers.)

  • However, that's not to say that creating change is entirely on the shoulders of those who bear the brunt of the discrimination. Forbes recently wrote about the top-down changes that are needed in order for women to "unlock growth, inclusion and prosperity," and they all require major infrastructure moves. Some are government-based and would demand legislative reform, while others address the gender divide in executive leadership roles. Whether you're addressing the divide individually or on a larger scale, it's clear that this widespread issue will need massive reform. (See WiCipedia: Is Trump going to end diversity training in tech?)

  • If you're looking to pick up some new coding skills while seemingly perpetually stuck at home, check out this roundup of boot camp resources from Technical.ly. There are both free and paid courses for every skill level, and all courses are currently available virtually. Many also offer job placement assistance after course completion. Ballerinas and basketball players alike are all welcome. (See WiCipedia: Startup School Scholarships, Losing Lena & UK Pay Discrepancies.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].

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