This week in our WiCipedia roundup: The N95 mask's origin story; women in tech concerned about job loss; Intel announces new diversity goals; and more.
A new study from AnitaB.org relays findings that women in tech seem to be hit hard by the pandemic. More than 2,600 women were surveyed, and nearly half (46%) reported being concerned about job loss, and another 36% said that because they were deemed essential workers they weren't permitted to work from home for safety. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that layoffs had already begun at their workplaces, and 44% said that if they hadn't already begun, they believed they would soon. More than half (57%) of minority respondents said there was no Plan B – if they get laid off they do not have a backup plan – yet only 43% of all women said that, suggesting that Caucasian women may feel as though they have more career options than racial minorities. (See WiCipedia: COVID-19 layoffs affect women more.)
We like to imagine this woman is trying to work from home while hiding out from her children.
The N95 mask has become a household term in the US in the past few months, though until recently it was mostly known by name only by medical professions. Both Fast Company and NPR's Throughline podcast have told the origin story of this device, which we were excited to hear since it was invented – at least in its current form – by a woman. Though various incarnations of face coverings have been around for well over a century, the N95 mask was conceived by Sara Little Turnbull, a magazine editor who envisioned that family members visiting loved ones in the hospital would wear the masks for germ protection. The shape was originally based on a bra cup, and though it has had slight ergonomic and respiratory efficacy adjustments over the decades, the mask largely remains the same as the original design. Guess you don't have to be a STEM whiz to create impactful inventions after all. (See Meet the Woman Who Can Make You a Millionaire Inventor.)
Intel announced new diversity goals, CNET explained, and they specifically address women in technical roles and minorities in senior positions. In the next decade, the company aims to level out its tech contingent by increasing the amount of female staff members to 40% and doubling the number of women and minorities in senior roles. According to Intel's diversity report from last year, the company is currently at 24.6% female technical staff and 20.3% female executives, so that will be a big growth jump before 2030. "We aim for big, audacious goals," said Barbara Whye, Intel's chief diversity and inclusion officer and VP of human resource. "We set these impossible goals, and then we bring the engineering mindset just like we would to any other quality issue inside of Intel or any other engineering challenge inside of Intel." (See WiCipedia: Doubling Down on Diversity & Google's Payoff Scandal.)
You may recall the tale of former Google employee James "Nitwit" Damore, who sued the company for alleged discrimination against white men. SFist reports that – surprise, surprise – Damore just dropped his suit. While it's not quite clear what happened to make him dismiss the lawsuit, some think that Google may have quietly settled the case. Or maybe Damore just realized that he was being idiotic and barking up the wrong tree: "I'm not necessarily the best at predicting what would be controversial," he said. However, "internal diversity and inclusion training programs have been scaled back or cut entirely" at Google shortly after Damore's "Manifesto" was released, NBC News reported, so there was clearly a toll for the whole misadventure. (See 'Ladysplaining' Ex-Googler's Anti-Women Memo.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading