Women In Comms

WiCipedia: When sexism goes to trial

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Female CEOs are few and far between; a unicorn falls from grace under oath; progress in STEM at the White House; and more.

  • Elizabeth Holmes, founder of now-defunct blood-testing company Theranos, is currently on trial for 12 counts of various egregiousness, from wire fraud to conspiracy. An article by Ellen Pao in The New York Times explores the connection between the case and sexism. Holmes is a unicorn – she's a woman who has raised an exceptional amount of VC funding, a rarity in the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley tech. It's also exceptional that she is being put on trial for the failure of her company, something countless men have simply gotten away with. Pao writes, "Questionable, unethical, even dangerous behavior has run rampant in the male-dominated world of tech start-ups." Pao isn't arguing that Holmes shouldn't be held accountable; instead she explains that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of sex or gender: "These problems can't be ignored or pretended away. If the members of the investors' boys' club won't hold each other accountable, prosecutors must step in, as they're doing now with Elizabeth Holmes." (See WiCipedia: Facebook's LGBT Stats, Broettes & 'Tiny Lady Hands'.)

    (Source: Pixabay)
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • A new report shows that only one in five Fortune 500 company CEOs identify as a woman, an article on CIO Dive explains. Over the past few years, the numbers have barely budged, and women who are in these high-up positions tend to stay in them for shorter amounts of time than their male counterparts. Many companies have launched diversity and inclusion campaigns recently, so these numbers and their lack of movement are particularly frustrating. There are just so many factors that feed into the lack of women in tech, particularly at the top of the pyramid, from company culture to caretaking responsibilities to exclusion during the recruitment and interview process, and each angle needs to be tackled individually. "If we want to see more women in tech tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, we have to work hard at it," Nabila Salem, president of Revolent, the cloud talent firm that produced the report, said. (See WiCipedia: How companies can align values with profits.)

  • Thirty members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) have just been announced, and for the first time in history, women make up half of the body. A press release explains that this is the most diverse PCAST ever, boasting female co-chairs, BIPOC and immigrants. President Biden's "commitment to build an Administration that truly looks like America" shows in this line-up of diverse STEM representatives. PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander stated, "President Biden understands that addressing the opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – will require harnessing the full power of science and technology. Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways, because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions. This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity." (See WiCipedia: You can't become what you don't see.)

  • Also out of DC is the new "national anti-racism initiative that will tackle workplace inequities in order to improve the health and wellness of Black women" from the Black Women's Health Imperative, a press release explains. The new initiative aims to create long-term strategies for the health and wellness of Black women at work by creating partnerships with corporations and executives, as well as releasing an Anti-Racism Toolkit specifically for Black women. "For corporations to create meaningful change, it isn't enough to simply host an annual implicit bias training," said Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women's Health Imperative. "Real change can only happen when the actual policies and practices that safeguard racism and gender discrimination in the workplace are abolished." (See WiCipedia: New administration brings changes for minorities in tech.)

    — 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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