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WiCipedia: Social Skills Boost Opportunity & the Emergence of Diversity Data

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: SheHacks hosts largest female hackathon in world; the birth of diversity data; wear your geek on your sleeve; and more.

Join Women in Comms for an important morning of networking and discussion at our annual WiC networking breakfast event in Denver on March 22. Let's put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. There's still time to register for this free event!

  • You may have wondered when diversity data first came on the scene -- we know we have! Has it always been available or has the recent stream of sexual harassment scandals and pay inequality reports made it more accessible? Luckily, The Atlantic published an article about this very topic. They report that much of the data became available in 2013, when Tracy Chou, an engineer in Silicon Valley, "issued a call to action to the tech community to release real data about diversity. Apple, Facebook, and Google all released their first diversity reports the next year." Chou, founder of Project Include, found that companies felt secure as long as they measured average compared to similar tech companies; they felt no need to go above and beyond: "I was told that we weren't worse than average, and so there was no need for us to put any particular effort toward making the place better for women ... leaders at these tech companies are men. If they can see themselves succeeding and they can see other people like themselves, they don't really find it to be a problem that women aren't there." (See Light Reading's 2017 Survey of Women in Comms and WiCipedia: IVF Woes & Changing an Archetype.)

  • Looking for some unique yet office-appropriate wear? Meet Svaha. The new company designs "fashion with a hint of geek," specifically for women who work in STEM, and those who want to. The Washington City Paper explains that the clothing is designed for scientists and mathmaticians... in other words -- "those who want to fight off the discomfort that can sometimes arise while working in male-dominated industries, and those simply wanting to show off their passions in an organic way." While we aren't exactly sure how a constellation-adorned dress might fend off harassment, we're all for people displaying their passions however they see fit. Svaha Co-founder Eva Everett said, "What used to infuriate me was that when I would tell people that I'm a scientist, one of the most common responses was, 'You don't look like a scientist.' One thing we wanted to show was that women belong everywhere and we wanted to have clothing that lets people embrace their passions." Co-founder Jaya Iyer also mentioned that she wasn't able to find clothing that appealed to her daughter's interests in STEM, so she designed them herself. (See UK Women Take On Discriminatory Dress Codes and WiCipedia: Short Skirts & Back-Up Plans.)

    We've Always Wanted a Glow-in-the-Dark Binary Code Infinity Scarf
    And it's solar-powered?!  (Source: Svaha)
    And it's solar-powered?!
    (Source: Svaha)

  • SheHacks Boston hosted a hacking event last week that was one of the world's largest hacking events for women so far, with more than 1,000 high schoolers and college-aged women in the Boston area. The New York Times says that the goal of the event was to empower women and create a tech space where they aren't the minority in a sea of men. Additionally, "The SheHacks competition includes challenges intended to help victims of sexual assault and combat fake news," the article stated. The event was a 36-hour, student-run hackathon, open to all female and non-binary individuals. (See WiCipedia: Pinkification of Tech & Australia's Diversity Endeavor and WiCipedia: Diversity Awareness & Schooling Brogrammers.)

  • There's a lot of pressure for women to step into the light in tech; to claim their space. An article in Glamour titled "Women Have Been 'Stepping Up' Forever -- Now it's Time for Men to Elevate Us," puts the onus on men though. The article explains that women's overall inability to thrive in male-dominated spaces is not a reflection of women not attempting to claim the space, but of men locking us out, using politics and the entertainment industry as examples. "Women cannot be elevated if the men who hold the keys to the gates won't open them," the author writes. (See Time for Women to Demand Equality – Panel, WiCipedia: Following Women on Twitter... and on Stage and Should Men Attend Women's Conferences? )

  • A new research paper has found that men's lack of social skills may be holding them back, and that women have the advantage. The Register explains that a report titled "The 'End of Men' and Rise of Women in the High-Skilled Labor Market" from The National Bureau of Economic Research highlights findings that opportunities for women have increased in the past few decades due to their communication skills. The paper states, "Using occupation-level data, we find evidence that this relative increase in the demand for female skills is due to an increasing importance of social skills within such occupations. Evidence from both male and female wages is also indicative of an increase in the demand for social skills." Can't say we're surprised! (See WiCipedia: Apple's Diversity Dilemma & Women Have Tech Edge, Study Finds.)

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

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/9/2018 | 1:16:29 PM
    Re: Spiffy scarves
    Totally agree, Kelsey! I think the clothing is a fun idea but their marketing has a long way to go to match the desired demographic.

    The double standard for success is old and needs to go. Here's to hoping 2018 is the turning point. ; )
    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser,
    User Rank: Blogger
    2/9/2018 | 9:12:13 AM
    Spiffy scarves
    Binary code scarf is pretty cool but I looked at the website and I'm not sure how dressing like Miss Frizzle makes you "look like a scientist" in the context I think the creators were going for. The designs are interesting but seems like more of what a science teacher might wear versus an engineer at a conference. Maybe I'm too culturally conditioned?

    Glamour article was interesting and I'd have to agree -- women have been stepping up and showing up for years, but if you climb too high you're "unlikeable" and "trying to hard." A male CEO, on the other hand, might be "unlikeable" but people would probably just call him "successful" and leave it at that.
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