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WiCipedia: Bots Gone Wild at CES & Another Google Lawsuit

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: CES makes waves with keynote additions and scandalous bots; former Google engineer James Damore strikes back; how to buck the brogrammers; and more.

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  • This week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas received a lot of flak regarding its lack of female keynoters. Luckily, they were able to do something about it at the last minute. CNET says that while two women would be added to this year's line-up, the real focus would be on next year's event. Nancy Dubuc, president and chief executive officer of A+E Networks, and Kristin Dolan, founder and CEO of television analytics firm 605, are the two keynoters who were added to a group discussion. CES spokespeople say they are committed to diversity for the event, but is this too little too late, or is it the thought that counts? (See WiCipedia: Brotopia Shocks, Revolar Protects & CES Disappoints.)

  • And in case you thought that was the most outrageous CES news of the year, think again. In a blast from the past (future?) move, robot strippers made headlines for their Vegas debut, The Daily Beast explains. At a CES after party at Las Vegas strip club Sapphire, robots were flown in from London "to attract more women." The club's managing partner explained, "The majority of strip clubs are not appealing to people through CES. We're offering a different place to go. If you're six people from a company and there's two women and four guys, you can still [come] here and have some fun and see the robots and not feel like you have to be part of a strip club." Good idea! We particularly like the advertising: "A pun-laden invitation for the grand opening event went out last week and invited attendees to, 'Come watch sparks fly as the robo-twins shake their hardware and leave everyone wondering if those double Ds are real or made in 'Silicone' Valley.'" There was no official affiliation with CES. (See CES 2017: WIC's Picks & What Made Us Sick.)

    The Robots Danced to the Star Wars Theme
    (Source: The Daily Beast)
    (Source: The Daily Beast)

  • In an article on Wired, fullstack software engineer Cai Gao discusses how she became successful in a male-dominated field, and offers her best tips for "bucking the brogrammers." Gao has four suggestions, two of which are interconnected -- local organizations starting programs and government funding for girls in tech and women looking to enter into the industry. She also says that companies themselves play a big role in "fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace for all genders." No matter what the industry at large is doing in its treatment of women, individual companies can always step up and be better. There are no excuses. Lastly, managers play a big role in women's success in tech. While this is similar to mentoring, something we talk a lot about at Women in Comms, managers don't necessarily need to be mentors to be effective. Yet since this isn't the norm, women still have to take matters into their own hands sometimes. Gao has some words of wisdom that we love: "My advice to women who want to break into STEM: Be authentic and believe in yourself. If you were called smarty-pants growing up, then be a smarty-pants, study, and do the really hard stuff. If you are opinionated, then be opinionated and share your voice. Your voice could very well be the reason we go to Mars, battle climate change effectively, or perfect self-driving car technologies." So go ahead, break through that glass ceiling. (See A Women in Comms Glossary.)

  • Google has been no stranger to lawsuits about discrimination in the past year, and 2018 is starting off with a bang. Former Google engineer James Damore, author of the Gender Manifesto, has just filed his own lawsuit against the company. TechCrunch reports that Damore has filed a class-action lawsuit against the mega-corp for... wait for it -- discrimination against white men. Specifically, conservative white men. While this isn't a demographic that's often considered the underdog, Damore claims that they are in the minority at liberal Google, and that he, and others like him, deserve compensation for the harmful discrimination they've endured. "In an interview with CNBC, for example, [Damore] compared being a conservative at Google to 'being gay in the 1950s.'" Somehow, we're having trouble taking pity on him... (See Google Fires Engineer Over Gender Manifesto.)

  • What's one way to ensure that companies aren't stacking the deck in anyone's favor? Go through the hiring process without revealing the applicant's gender. The New York Times published a blog about this recent phenomenon, and said that the practice of "masking" interviewees during interviews was really exploding. The article is written by co-founder Katharine Zaleski, who runs a company that aims to help other companies increase their diversity. Zaleski isn't in favor of "blind hiring" though, seeing it as "a misguided distraction from the hard work of evaluating and fixing the ways in which their cultures drive out the women who are actually hired." Which brings up a good point: Is fixing the root issue of diversity in tech more important, or can we merely smooth over the symptoms? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. (See Google Shares Gender-Blind Pay Policies and WiCipedia: Gendered Job Descriptions, Glass Cliffs & Gaslighting.)

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

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    1/30/2018 | 8:42:08 AM
    Bias Against Conservatives?
    I had listened to James Damore, formerly of Google on a couple of YouTube videos on the topic of empathy, and found him believable in his integrity and sincerely wanting to get Google to at least recognize that his philosophy might not agree with Google's in all aspects but thinks they should not be judging employees by their beliefs as long as it doesn't interfere with their work. It will be interesting to see if the courts allow his suit to proceed against Google.
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