Weekly Round Up 7/13/18

 

 

I have enough noise in my head as it is; I don’t need Siri in there too…
Mind-reading tech could unlock communication for nonverbal people

 

Y’all can thank Zuckerberg for this…
Tech Lobby Head Urges Privacy Standards to Avert Divergent Rules

I mean, if no one else is going to address the Mental Health problem…
Don’t dismiss tech solutions to mental health problems

 

This all but screams an admission of guilt…
A power play’: Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica cleanup sweeps up marketing tech


Dude, why didn’t you just steal the car?

Former Apple employee charged with theft of autonomous-vehicle trade secrets


Wow…. I guess we are winning at something…

The EU sucks for women tech founders

Because losing my reproductive rights isn’t enough…
What Trump’s pick of Kavanaugh for Supreme Court means for tech

Finally, some good news.
Women in tech: the IT firms tackling the gender imbalance


This is long overdue in my opinion…

Three Huge Ways Tech Is Overhauling Healthcare


This is creepy and cool at the same time…

High-tech road signs detect phone use in cars, flash a warning to drivers


Speaking of creepy…

Smart technology sees through walls to track and identify people


Yeah, but will it help them get my freakin order right?

Toast, a fast-growing supplier of restaurant technology, says it has achieved ‘unicorn’ status

Weekly Round Up 6/15/18

 

Um, anything more sophisticated than the Self-Check out lines in Walmart will be hard for the American Public to master, guys.
No more grocery checkout lines: Microsoft may rival Amazon with tech that cuts out the cashier

 

Well, if nothing else is working….
Using tech to stop phone-wielding drivers

 

We don’t hear enough good things about Tech these days….
6 ways tracking tech is changing the world for the better

Whatever happened to just going to camp and being a kid?
NDSU summer tech camp designed to encourage young girls to pursue a career in technology

My favorite story of the week…
Apple closing tech loophole police use to crack iPhones

Please God, No. Make it Stop.
Drone swarms are the new fireworks lighting up China’s skies

 

Trump will never be able to wrap his tiny, barely used brain around this….
The Guy Who Created Oculus Has Now Made Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall

Literally what they do best….
Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour

WIT: In quest for tech leadership positions, Chicago women band together to challenge ‘bro fest’

 

When Betsy Ziegler was named the first female CEO of technology and entrepreneurship center 1871 in February, it didn’t immediately sink in for her what that designation would mean.

The more she spoke with female entrepreneurs, however, the better she understood.

“All of them were like, ‘The fact that they chose you … as a female to lead this organization is a massive sign of … commitment,’ ” said Ziegler, who previously was chief innovation officer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “ ‘(1871 is) choosing the right person, regardless of what their gender is, to lead the organization forward.’ ”

Women such as Ziegler are moving into leadership roles in the tech industry, and the state’s largest public university is seeing more women majoring in computer science. But in Chicago and nationally, technology jobs overwhelmingly are dominated by men. Women in the industry say creating a path for more female leaders is an important step toward addressing many of the problems they face, from the lack of funding for companies they create to the lack of flexibility from employers when they pause their careers to start families.

There have been efforts to empower women in the tech world for years, and some expect the conversations about sexual harassment and gender discrimination sparked by the #MeToo movement to accelerate the cause. More companies have those issues on their radars. Networks of women in tech are growing, and they are working to reduce barriers for their peers.

In the Chicago office of Big Four auditor KPMG, Alex Bell, managing director in the insurance technology group, is working to find more female tech talent and propel the women already at the company into positions of power.

She launched a Women in Tech group at the firm 2½ years ago, and now it’s made up of more than 50 women in a range of positions, from partners to new associates. Men joined too.

“When we started this Women in Tech group, a lot of … male colleagues came to me and said, ‘What can I do?’ ” Bell said. “That, to me, says a lot.”

The group has had sessions with the recruiting team on how to find more women for tech roles. It has gone to a high school to talk to students about careers in technical fields and works with KPMG clients to launch similar initiatives in their own companies. Bell is creating a master list of group members’ areas of expertise so women can quickly find resources to help solve problems or build skills.

At Chicago-based Relativity, which makes software that analyzes data gathered during litigation, Jennifer Westropp, the company’s learning and development manager, started a leadership coaching program for female employees in November. The company hired a consultant to help them develop paths to executive roles.

The company was revamping its leadership development program, and women were asking for more resources on how to advance their careers, Westropp said. The pilot program includes eight women at the 829-person firm.

Software engineering manager Cindy Quendangen said it made her feel proud when she was approached about joining the program. But she hasn’t always felt comfortable being one of the few women in the room, a situation she’s faced ever since her college computer science classes.

“One of the big things that drives a lot of women out of tech is that they feel like they don’t belong,” Quendangen said.

In the past seven years, the share of technology-related jobs held by women across all industries in the Chicago area has barely budged, moving from 22 percent in 2010 to 22.4 percent last year, according to data from Downers Grove-based trade association CompTIA.

Nationally last year, women held 22 percent of tech jobs, including roles like systems analyst, software developer and web developer.
The percentage of all jobs in Illinois’ tech industry filled by women, including nontechnical roles, barely improved in recent years, rising to 34.1 percent last year from 33.8 percent in 2015, when CompTIA began tracking that data.

Many corporate boards and senior executive teams in the tech industry are mindful of diversity and have been for at least the past four or five years, said Sally Beatty, a partner in the Chicago office of recruiting and consulting firm Korn Ferry. In recent months, there has been more interest in reducing the gender gap in executive roles.

But it’s still a challenge to find women to fill those roles, said Beatty, who works with technology companies around the world on CEO and C-suite searches.

“There are more men in senior tech roles, which means there’s less of a pipeline of (women) to move up,” she said. “Change is really slow.”

Women in the industry see a variety of obstacles to achieving greater gender equality: Not enough funding goes to startups founded by women; too few girls are being encouraged to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math; and it’s hard for women to get back into technical occupations after taking time off to start a family.

For all the factors contributing to the problem, there are actions companies and leaders can take now to get more women involved in technology, said Julia Kanouse, CEO of the Chicago-based Illinois Technology Association. She is bullish on increasing the number of women in technology leadership roles and in better-paying positions — such as software engineering — at tech companies.

“You can’t keep kicking the can down the road and say, ‘It’s pipeline, it’s pipeline, it’s pipeline,’” she said. “Getting women into leadership roles can happen right now.”

At times, however, having strong and visible women in charge of technology teams or heading events isn’t enough, said Rumi Morales, a local entrepreneur and tech investor. She gave a talk earlier this year on blockchain, the software platform that powers bitcoin, and the women in attendance were vastly outnumbered by the men, Morales said. Some women still don’t feel comfortable or confident attending industry events, she said.

Morales, former head of CME Ventures, said she makes an effort to get more women to participate in financial technology events so women can see that Chicago has strong female leaders in the sector. She is on the advisory council for a group called Fintech Women, which works to attract women to the field. The formation of those types of groups is heartening, Morales said, but she’d like to see more women participating.

Ann Yeung, the new head of technology for Morningstar’s global retirement and workplace solutions group, started getting involved with women in tech initiatives a few years ago when she worked for Capital One. It was an awakening for her, and she realized she should not settle for being one of the few women in the room.

“It was like, ‘OK, this is the norm, but it really shouldn’t be the norm.

Why are we in this situation?’” she said.
Yeung, the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, said she tries to be a role model, since she’s seen many women leave midcareer to start families.

There is a growing awareness among companies of the need to accommodate new moms, which didn’t exist a decade ago when Yeung was a software engineer — and a new mom — at another company. She said she didn’t feel like she could discuss a more flexible schedule with her bosses.

“The first step to being able to make incremental change is to have this awareness and having people talking about it,” she said.

Despite the ongoing problem of underrepresentation, Chicago’s tech industry has become more welcoming toward women in recent years, and the cultural shift is noticeable, said Reva Minkoff, an 1871 member.

When she was launching her two digital marketing companies six years ago, “the tech scene was kind of a bro fest,” she said.

The founder of digital marketing companies Digital4Startups and DigitalGroundUp, Minkoff often was one of the few women at events. She received inappropriate comments at industry gatherings. Once, a man at an event took a photo of her dress without permission.

She hears fewer workplace stories that could just as well have happened in a frat house. “The good news is it’s gotten a lot better,” she said.
Efforts by coding schools, universities and others are tackling the talent pipeline issue.

Coding boot camp Fullstack Academy recently launched a track in Chicago that defers tuition for women until they land a job. The track is named for computer programming pioneer Grace Hopper, and the first group of eight students is set to graduate at the end of May.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which routinely ranks among the top engineering schools in the country, the percentage of undergraduate computer science majors who are women rose to almost 26 percent for the current school year, up from 12 percent four years ago.

Among startups spun out of Illinois universities in the past five years, 28 percent have a female founder, according to a recent report from the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. That’s higher than the 16 percent of startups globally that have a women founder, according to Crunchbase, a tech company database.

At 1871, efforts to further the careers of female entrepreneurs predate Ziegler’s arrival. The WiSTEM program, which connects women with capital and tech resources, began in 2015 with 13 participants.
WiSTEM graduate Jamie Migdal said women in tech are focused on their work, but industry initiatives help bring attention the change they are creating.

“Once in a while we lift our heads up and say, ‘Oh, that’s cool; there are more of us.’ But let’s just keep working,” said Migdal, who founded FetchFind, which provides employee training to businesses that deal with animals.

While women in the industry see progress on several fronts, many say the lack of funding for the companies they create is a persistent challenge.

Only 0.2 percent of the nearly $2 billion in venture capital funding that flowed to Chicago-area companies last year went to ventures with only female founders, according to data from research firm Pitchbook. Companies with at least one female founder secured almost 31 percent.

Those numbers are “horrible,” said Dimitra Georganopoulou, director of commercialization at Northwestern University’s Innovation and New Ventures Office.

The tech industry is starting to pay attention to the lack of inclusion and all the problems that stem from it, said Terri Brax, co-founder of Women Tech Founders, or WTF — an abbreviation that isn’t accidental.

That wasn’t the case three years ago, when WTF launched.

“Women were kind of invisible in the whole startup space, even in tech overall,” she said.

Companies now are discussing how to turn their organizations into places where women can excel, Brax said. There’s a spirit of camaraderie among women that’s driving the change, she said, but there’s still work to be done.

“It’s like when you push a rock up a hill; (it’s) the first push that’s so hard, and you still have the whole damn hill,” Brax said. “But you’re moving.”

WIT: Women in tech share painful stories about getting paid less than the guy working next to them

 

 

By Julie Bort of Business Insider

Imagine coming home from your favorite grocery store and discovering your neighbor shops at the same store, buys the same items — and still pays about 20% less than you do. And when you complain, you’re told that there’s nothing anyone can do, that it’s just the way things are for people like you, despite any laws to the contrary.

How would you feel about this store? Somewhere between disillusioned and duped? Would you still shop there? Think about this analogy as you consider how women are still paid less than men, even for the same work.
Tuesday is Equal Pay day, intended to to bring awareness to the pay gap.

A new report from job-hunting site Hired found that in the tech industry, the gap begins at the get-go. Hired found that 63% of the time, men are offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same tech company. On average, these companies offer women 4% less than men for the same role, with some offering women up to 45% less.

If there’s some good news in Hired’s report it’s this: San Francisco, a major tech hub, has the smallest pay gap. That may be influenced by San Francisco’s largest tech employer, Salesforce. The cloud computing company has adjusted its payroll twice now, raising women’s salaries to keep them equal.
The second time occurred thanks to all the companies it acquired, CEO Mark Benioff recently told me during an on stage interview at the company’s annual developer’s conference.

Chasing Grace

 

The pay gap is one reason why, after years of covering all the problems women in tech face in their careers, I have decided to become an advisor to something called The Chasing Grace Project, a video documentary series about women in tech that I will provide editorial advice to. (Disclosure: this is a fully volunteer gig, with no compensation of any kind for me — no pay, no perks, no reimbursements, no equity. The project does have some corporate sponsors including the Linux Foundation, Cloud Foundry and Intel, but is independent of them.)

Chasing Grace (named after Grace Hopper, the computer programming pioneer) is a new documentary series shedding light on the struggles of real women and offering as many answers as it can.

It’s a labor of love by Jennifer Cloer, co-founder of Wicked Flicks Productions. Cloer is well-known in the tech industry for her six years running communications for the Linux Foundation, the granddaddy of open source foundations. And open source, despite its kumbaya work ethic, is a decidedly bro club: 97% male and notoriously hostile, a recent GitHub survey found.

The initial episode of Chasing Grace dives into the pay gap and how an infuriatingly unfair system causes an emotional and economic toll.

It documents the stories of several women in tech, including engineers, business people and founders. It shows how they discovered their male peers were getting paid far more than them and how that information threatened to derail their careers.

For instance, in one case the company gave a job offer to an entry-level man that was more money than it was paying a senior woman who had spent years building the company.

One of the women interviewed explained the solution simply: “Don’t lowball her. Give her the fair pay. You know what it is.”

Helping or hurting?

There are those who argue that business shouldn’t pay people equally based on some people’s idea of morality or fairness. Doing such a thing would raise costs and hurt the company.

The counter argument is that by basing pay on what people look like, rather than what they do, a company is hurting itself. Messing with people’s pay creates resentment among employees and drives away top people.

Some researchers say there’s a societal benefit as well.

Across industries, closing the pay gap could add more than $512 billion to the U.S. economy and cut poverty almost in half, according to research from the Institute for Women’s Policy. Doing that would reduce the need for taxpayer-based public assistance.
Even for women in tech who are in the higher-tier of professional compensation, and nowhere near the poverty line, disparities in pay can take a long-term toll on lives and families, says Clair Wasserman, co-founder of Ladies Get Paid, a networking group for women.

“White women are losing about $500,000 over the course of their lifetime over the course of their career. Women of color are losing $1 million,” Wasserman says in Chasing Grace episode one.

That’s the cost of paying off a house.

So on Tuesday, if you are a woman, or you are married to a woman, or you have daughters, mothers, aunts, sisters or female cousins, then you may be motivated to show your support for Equal Pay Day by wearing red to work. Tweeting your support to #equalpayday is a nice gesture, too.

Obviously, outfits and tweets won’t solve the problem but bringing the discussion to work is a place to begin.

The Chasing Grace Project will also tackle other issues concerning women in tech. It is currently available only to private screenings. Cloer is hoping to negotiate a national distribution deal and will eventually release the project online.

Here’s a clip:

WIT: Women In Tech: Educated, Ambitious And Underpaid

 

By Laurence Bradford , CONTRIBUTOR of Forbes.com

As Women’s History Month nears its close in 2018, many people have been reflecting on the struggles women have faced in the past and the strides they are making toward changing the future.

Tech is one area of specific interest here, as it’s a place where women have traditionally been under-represented. But is that changing too?

Let’s find out. Using data from several large tech surveys, I’ll examine the current state of women in tech and see where things stand.

More Women Are Learning To Code Than Ever

 

While tech has historically been a male-dominated industry, there’s a new generation of women who aren’t intimidated by that fact. According to HackerRank’s Women in Tech report, women now represent the highest number of new CS grads and junior developers (53%) entering the workforce.

What’s more, women often learn to code as young teenagers: almost as many women learned before the age of 16 as men who did the same.

Further illustrating the evidence for the shifting demographics of coding as a profession, twice as many women as men have been coding two years or less. Once these women enter the workforce, we will likely see other statistics continue to shift as well.

The tides are turning, but for now, men still vastly outnumber women in tech careers. As an example, look at the demographics of the respondents to Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer survey: nearly 93% were male.

(But There Is Still A Gender Pay Gap In Computing)

Many industries still suffer from a gender pay gap, despite rising public awareness of the issue. Tech is one of them.

In fact, according to LiveStories’ data for the Computer and Mathematical category, the pay gap was actually worse in 2016 than it had been in 2005. Their numbers are based on income statistics from the United States Census Bureau. Women in computers in 2005 earned 87% as much as their male counterparts, but by 2016, it had fallen to 85%.

Women Prioritize The Skills Employers Want

 

As the data demonstrates, women in tech are overwhelmingly practical.

They tend to pursue proficiency in the languages most in-demand and valued by employers.

Specifically, the top 5 programming languages that most women have proficiency in are,
Java (69%)
JavaScript (63%)
C (61%)
C++ (53%)
Python (45%)

These are the exact same languages that companies value most in front-end, back-end and full-stack developers.

(But Women Are More Likely To Hold Junior Positions)

 

Despite the fact that women have skills in demand by employers, Hackerrank found that women of all ages were more likely to hold junior positions than their male counterparts. The difference was especially striking for women over 35, who were 3.5x more likely to be in junior roles.

It’s unclear whether women are being passed over for promotions out of implicit bias or because of life events–like having children–that stall the journey into senior positions.

However, there are plenty of inspiring women out there who demonstrate that you can have multiple life paths–like Vidya Srinivasan, who defied workplace stereotypes while pregnant and then successfully integrated back to work after maternity leave.

Furthermore, tech companies who are willing to offer fertility benefits like egg freezing enable women to pursue their professional goals during the crucial growth years, without sacrificing family if that’s something they want in the future.

What Women Value In The Workplace

 

As part of Stack Overflow’s annual survey, they ask participating developers what they prioritize while searching for a job. The most popular answers differ when broken down by gender.

When assessing a prospective job, women say their highest priorities are company culture and opportunities for professional development, while men say their highest priorities are compensation and working with specific technologies.

The fact that women actively seek out professional development opportunities shows that there is desire among women to progress to higher roles. They simply need companies who will support their quest to do so.


Laurence Bradford is a product manager at Teachable and the creator of Learn to Code With Me, a blog and podcast for those wanting to transition into a tech career later in life.

WIT: How to make Women’s Day every day in tech

 

By Petra Andrea of Financial Review

It’s 2018, which means we have fridges that are probably better at planning our groceries than we are. We’ve found new planets that could potentially harbour life, and we’re eating stem-cell-produced medium-rare steak burgers without a trace of steak in them.

Innovation in tech and science is creating a whole new world of possibilities at an almost alarming rate. And yet there’s still one area of technology that seems stubbornly untouched by progress: persistent gender inequality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Multiple reports indicate that women hold just under a third of all IT jobs, and less than 10 per cent of technology jobs in Australia. Female tech entrepreneurs are outnumbered by their male counterparts at a rate of about four to one.
So why is so much progress being made within laboratories and workshops around the country in terms of tech innovation, and yet so little is being made on the gender inequality front?

Below are some of the ways women in technology continue to be held back – and what might be done to address them:

1) Problems in the playpen

Walking down any toy-shop aisle, it’s hard to miss the vast difference between the toys marketed for boys, and those aimed at girls.

Aside from the glaring colour differences – who knew pink came in so many different shades? – girls’ toys are more generally associated with domesticity, physical attractiveness and nurturing. Boys’ toys, on the other hand, are largely more functional – tools for building, creating and achieving. They promote skills in mathematical, engineering and scientific fields in a way the pink cohort sadly doesn’t.

And while a plastic pink tea set doesn’t have to be destiny, there is evidence that this type of early gendered socialisation creates a variety of social and economic consequences that can extend into adulthood. Research demonstrates it can contribute to the education gap in schools, it can affect a child’s choice in tertiary majors and it can even guide his or her future occupational choice.

It may be challenging to influence the purchasing preference of any three-year-old. However, non-gendered toys and STEM toys made especially for girls, are both now on the rise. From friendship bracelets that require programming (“Jewelbots”), to dolls houses with building kits complete with circuits and motors that allow girls to light up the structures they build themselves (“Roominate”), choices are increasing, parents may be relieved to know.

2) Schoolyard blues

Australia’s STEM education gender gap isn’t news to anyone.
Only 16 per cent of STEM-qualified people are female, according to a report by the Office of the Chief Scientist. Just one-10th of engineering graduates are women, and a quarter of IT graduates. Women also occupy less than 20 per cent of senior researcher positions in Australian universities and research institutes.

Dealing with a “boys’ club” culture in the classroom or lab of these degrees, a lack of encouragement into these fields by peers, family or professors, even low levels of female STEM representation in popular culture, all contribute to the ongoing socialisation and pressure on women away from these pursuits.
To address this, institutions must question how their learning environment contributes to or detracts from building interest in women for STEM degrees, and supporting them within the classroom and beyond.

3) A vicious VC cycle
For those women who have overcome a lifetime of socialisation, the challenges unfortunately don’t stop there. Only 5 per cent of female founders of tech start-ups are funded – a gender bias in venture capital that is seriously hurting our female tech entrepreneurs’ capacity to succeed.

This issue can actually be exacerbated when a female founder is seeking funding for a more “masculine” technology. Female founders seeking capital for “women’s” or “children’s” products, such as baby products or fashion platforms, are often far more likely to receive funding than those seeking capital for deeply technological and highly proprietary products.

This is indicative of a blatant subjectivity at play. The subtlety of some of the forces driving this are also likely to make it a challenging issue to address.
Internal bias (experienced by both men and women) can cause scepticism about a woman’s ability to manage a high-growth-potential start-up. This could be as ludicrous as believing women don’t have “what it takes” to make a tech-based start-up succeed, or concerns about balancing family with work. The sense of “sameness” that attracts us to people who are similar to us can also strongly weigh in subconsciously, with the majority of VCs being male.

In the end, tackling gender inequality in tech is likely to require multiple campaigns by numerous stakeholders targeting different individual issues across the entire life cycle of a woman’s childhood, education and career.
But if we can find artificial intelligence applications for the humble pizza delivery, surely resolving gender disparity on our own turf shouldn’t be considered an insurmountable challenge.

Do you think these suggestions will work for the US? Sound off in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 3/23/18

 

 

Apple’s looking pretty good right now, huh?
Facebook scandal could push other tech companies to tighten data sharing

Facebook may have just pushed our society back to the dark ages where tech is concerned.
It’s Not Just Facebook. The Big Tech Revolt Has Begun, Says Nomura

#deletefacbeook
The new tech divide: social media vs. everyone else

I thought I did. I didn’t.
Want to #DeleteFacebook? You Can Try

Um, they’ve never been held accountable for anything until now. How can it get worse?
Big Tech’s accountability-avoidance problem is getting worse

After the story of what Facebook did broke this week, there was no way this bill wasn’t going to pass…
Senate passes sex trafficking bill in defeat for weakened tech industry

I weep for our future.
People were asked to name women tech leaders. They said “Alexa” and “Siri”


Right, because they’ve proven so trustworthy with normal data….(eye roll)

Tech company using facial recognition technology to combat revenge porn

 

Oh, good. We found him.
This White Tech Guy Has an Idea to Make Tech Less White

WIT: The Dangers of Keeping Women Out of Tech

 

 

By Mallory Pickett of WIRED.com

IN 1978 A young woman named Maria Klawe arrived at the University of Toronto to pursue a doctorate in computer science. She had never used a computer—much less written a line of code—but she had a PhD in math and a drive to succeed in a male-dominated field. She was so good that, nine months later, the university asked her to be a professor.

Today, however, computer science is one of the few STEM fields in which the number of women has been steadily decreasing since the ’80s. In the tech industry, women hold only around one-fifth of technical roles. In light of these stats, the prevailing view in Silicon Valley these days is “This is terrible, let’s fix it.”

In Southern California, Klawe has done what tech has not. For the past 11 years, she has served as the president of Harvey Mudd College­—a small liberal arts school in Claremont, California, known for its intensive STEM focus—where the number of women in its computer science program has grown from 10 percent to 40 percent. On the subject, she’s optimistic: Change is possible. Now it’s the industry’s turn—and it could take a lesson from Klawe.

When you meet with men in the tech industry, can you tell that some of them doubt women can succeed in technical work?
That they don’t think women are suited for this? Oh, yeah.

People say that?
I was yelled at by one CEO who said his company was bringing women into technical roles but that if he saw it get to 30 percent, he’d know their hiring process was really screwed up. So I asked if he knew that we’re graduating women in computer science at more than 40 percent. He just blew me off. And when I asked him why there are so few women on his leadership team, he just said, “Gender isn’t an issue for us.”

So what about those screwed-up hiring practices? How do they work?
Look at the interview process. If I’m interviewing somebody, I would probably say, “Oh, it’s so nice to see you, welcome to Harvey Mudd, we’re really delighted to have you here with us.” But it would be quite common for a tech company to start an interview without even saying good morning or good afternoon, just: “I want to know what you know about pointers in C++, so show me how to do that.” Very adversarial, bragging, trying to show how much smarter they are. There are some women who feel perfectly comfortable in those environments, but I would say for the most part they don’t. Also, that kind of environment is just obnoxious.

But that’s how so many companies conduct interviews. Google comes to mind.
Google has studied their interview process, and I’ve heard that it overpredicts success for men and underpredicts success for women. [Google disputes this.] They just haven’t changed much.

Should they change? Judging from how well these companies are doing, it seems like those methods work. I mean, Steve Jobs was apparently an asshole—
He was an asshole. I met him.

—and Amazon reportedly has a terrible work environment, yet these are successful companies.
Yep.

So why change just to be friendlier to women?
Google, Facebook, Microsoft—all these companies were successful because they figured out a new way to make money. Google monetized search through advertising, Facebook became an advertising platform, Microsoft created a dominant software platform. But it’s probably an error to associate their success with their managerial style or their culture.

Some would say those managerial styles and cultures are crucial, not coincidental.
Let’s go back to the first big tech companies, like IBM and HP. Both were highly inclusive, really worked on hiring and promoting women and people of color. In fact, virtually every woman or person of color who’s a leader in the tech industry today—who’s roughly my age, 66—came up through IBM or HP. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and all the people in that generation came along in the ’80s or late ’70s. This happened to be a time when girls and young women were being turned away from computers. Computers became a boys’ domain almost overnight.

How?
Women were once about a third, maybe 35 percent, of the computer science majors in this country. Part of that was—I mean, this sounds so ridiculous—but part of that was because women had better typing skills and were thought of as being more careful. In the ’70s women were majoring in computer science because it was something they were expected to be good at. Then we had personal computers entering homes and schools.
There are two kinds of things you can do on a PC as a child. One is word processing. Bo-ring! The other is playing games like Pong and Space Invaders—computational power at that time couldn’t do graphics more sophisticated than that. And who likes to play those kinds of games? Boys. So it’s not particularly surprising that very quickly boys took over.

Is there a business reason for getting back to a culture in which computers aren’t seen as a boy thing?
The reality is, if tech companies can’t persuade more women and people of color to major in computer science, they are not going to be able to fill the positions that they have. Everybody’s looking at the same talent. They absolutely know what it costs to recruit a single person, and they know that if their churn for employees is, say, every 13 months, that’s not a good business case for them.

 

So when you actually start to increase the enrollment of women in computer science programs, what happens?
Well, at pretty much every place—not just Mudd but Carnegie Mellon, MIT, University of Washington, UBC, Princeton—that has made a significant effort to recruit women into engineering and computer science, not only do the female students do as well, they also take on most of the leadership roles.

With that in mind, have you noticed a change on campus?
Huge. It’s more social, people are happier—it’s just a different vibe. Before, there was a very particular culture, which is fairly common, where computer science is the central focus in the lives of most of the students. They read Reddit and GitHub, they play a lot of videogames, they do hacking projects. There are still students like that, but there are also people who care more about ballroom dancing.

What’s so important about having ballroom dancers be computer scientists?
If computer science is going to affect every aspect of society—and it is—you really would like to have some dancers, and some artists, and some doctors able to work at the interface of computer science in their field. That’s where the demand will be. Having that breadth of knowledge means you have better teams working on projects.

Sure, but is teamwork as important as your ability to write good code?
These days, agile software development often relies on pair programming, where you have two people—a driver and a navigator. The driver codes, the navigator looks over their shoulder and asks questions, and they flip roles about once every half hour. The result is much higher quality software. There are fewer faults.

Yet women still feel unwelcome. What changes at Mudd addressed that?
One was to make the introductory computer science course less intimidating. If you emphasize needing a special kind of brain, students who are underrepresented will do much worse. But if you say this is a discipline that rewards hard work and persistence, everyone does better.

We also started emphasizing more practical applications in introductory classes. In the past we presented computer science as interesting just for its own structure. That was very effective at attracting white and Asian men to the discipline, but only a subset of them, and it was generally not effective for women or people of color. When you start to make the argument that computer science is worth studying because of the things you can do with it, you attract not only more women but also a lot of men who wouldn’t have been interested in the usual approaches.

If everyone knows it’s a good idea to be more inclusive, and everyone wants to support their female employees, why aren’t more companies doing it?
Because changing culture is hard. Every company has somewhat different attributes that make recruiting people and keeping people difficult. Apple is one company that I don’t think is particularly trying. They hired their first VP of diversity and inclusion, and that person stayed for less than a year.

Are some companies succeeding?
Etsy convinced people who weren’t in software development jobs to be trained for technical roles, and they managed to get to almost 30 percent female in their engineering population relatively quickly. Accenture is doing extremely well and came in at roughly 40 percent female in their hires last year.

How did they do that?
The executive in charge of hiring came to me for help. I said, first of all, change your job descriptions. Don’t just list the technical skills you’re looking for. List communication skills, creativity, and people skills, so women will know it’s a workplace that values those things and because those are traits women tend to have more confidence about.

Gender isn’t the only concern, of course. If the percentage of female technical employees is in the teens at many companies, black and brown employees are—
In the single digits! Like, one-handed digits.

What is Harvey Mudd doing about that?
The truth is we made very little progress on race until about five years ago.

What happened?
We had been running a program where we would bring in 35 to 40 high school students for a weekend, and it was primarily aimed at students of color and women. Five years ago, we doubled the program and did two cohorts instead of one. And I started reaching out to African American leaders across the country. We also did research on how to recruit more Hispanic students, and we learned Hispanic families want their kids to stay close to home. So we needed to focus on admitting students from schools in Southern California.

What would you say to schools that are not making these changes?
What’s facing us is a very, very different future. The haves will be the people who have the skills that are needed, and the have-nots will be the people whose skills are no longer needed—because of automation, because of AI, because of robotics. We don’t know how fast certain kinds of routine jobs will go away, but we do know it will put a further income gap between people who have that kind of education and knowledge and people who don’t. If there are not many women, or people of color, or older people, or low­-income people getting that technical education and those technical jobs, it’s going to further polarize the situation in the country. It’s a question of transforming our society so a large enough fraction of people have opportunities for productive work.

So the stakes are high.
We want the Earth to survive. It’s pretty straightforward.


Do you have a woman in tech you admire? Tell us about her in the comments below!

WIT: The top keynote speakers at CES are all men. Here’s why that’s a problem

 

By Monica Chin of Mashable

CES, the world’s largest electronics trade show, kicks off next week, with the first official events starting Sunday, Jan. 7. At the conference, attendees will get a glimpse of the year’s newest technology, hear keynote speeches from top industry leaders, and try futuristic products. 

But this year will be marred by a glaring weakness in the CES lineup: The top keynote speakers (those who will address the conference audience alone, rather than as part of a panel) are all male, and five of the six are white. 

Needless to say, people are outraged. 

In fairness to the Consumer Technology Association, the group that organizes the conference, it did add women to the CES lineup in other places. 

The organization’s website now lists two female panelists and a female moderator on its “C Space Keynote” and a female moderator on its Mobile Innovation panel. Karen Chupka, CTA’s senior vice president of CES and corporate business strategy, is listed as presenting CTA’s keynote along with Gary Shapiro, CTA’s president and CEO.

However, the website only states that Shapiro will be giving the address. 

But all of the women CTA added to its lineup are panelists or panel moderators — none are giving keynotes themselves. 

The lack of diversity among the conference’s top speakers is frustrating in its own right. This conference comes just months after the genesis of the #MeToo campaign in which thousands of women spoke out about sexual harassment in their workplaces. It also comes after the explosion of stories such as Susan Fowler’s harrowing expose of her mistreatment at Uber and a Google engineer’s public claim that women are biologically inferior — both of which cast a bleak light on the state of diversity in the tech industry. The perspective of a woman is important if not necessary to creating a comprehensive picture of the industry today. 

Additionally, diversity is good. Plenty of research indicates that companies have better growth, better equity, less debt, higher quality products, and are millions more valuable when women hold top leadership positions. Surely, seeing female executives deliver keynotes at the world’s largest electronics show can only inspire more women to seek such positions, and empower their companies to hire female executives. 
But everyone makes mistakes. What’s more infuriating is CTA’s defense of its all-male lineup. The organization claimed the lack of diversity was not that much of a problem and not its fault. 

“Female business leaders are critical to the success of our show and the entire tech sector, and their position at CES extends beyond the keynote stage to our conference sessions and entrepreneurs exhibiting across the show floor,” reads Chupka’s response to criticism on CTA’s blog. 

I shouldn’t need to explain why this response is insufficient for anyone that actually cares about equal opportunity. It’s great that we have a lot of women in executive roles, but the opportunities to are still too few and far between, and it’s a symptom of broader societal discrimination. 

Secondly, CTA claims it’s not to blame. “To keynote at CES, the speaker must head (president/CEO level) a large entity who has name recognition in the industry,” Chupka says in her blog. “As upsetting as it is, there is a limited pool when it comes to these positions… the tech industry and every industry must do better.”

Yes, CES. These industries must do better. But so must you.

There are clearly many, many women in the tech industry who fit this description.

Kristin Lemkau, JP Morgan Chase’s chief marketing officer, tweeted a list of 32 women who fit CTA’s criteria that she claims took “less time than it took to drink coffee,” including IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, A&E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, and Mattel CEO Margo Georgiadis. Twitter responders added dozens more. 

 

Amazing women innovators in tech and media who would slay any keynote anywhere. Came up with these in less time than it took to drink coffee. In no particular order…
Other ideas?

CTA cannot simultaneously wave its hands and claim that they are tied. Claiming that minorities aren’t getting hired because they just aren’t qualified was academia’s answer to this same criticism last century. Since then, we’ve grown up to realize that in many instances, diversity outweighs meritocracy. If CTA can’t find a single female CEO willing to deliver a keynote, it should change its requirements. 

While women make up less than 20 percent of computer science programs in the U.S. and UK, they make up around 50 percent of those programs in India, Malaysia, and Nigeria. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that hiring is incredibly sexist.

In other words, a woman needs to do more work to get to the top jobs that CES covets so dearly than a man of equal aptitude — and therefore, a man who might give a keynote equally well. 

Organizers of worldwide events can scramble to find female speakers to put on panels for the sake of diversity alone, and that’s a start. But it’s not enough. These organizers need to realize that the most capable women in their industries, women who will deliver keynotes that will blow their minds, might be barred from the top spots because we live in a society where barriers exist to women attaining those positions.

CES’ current standards bar incredibly qualified individuals who could make the conference better. 

CTA, if you want the best possible keynotes at CES, find women. If 100 women can’t make it, reach out to 100 more. If there are no female CEOs of global companies, look at smaller companies. If you need to stick with big companies, look at COOs, CMOs, CTOs, CBOs. Most importantly, don’t pretend there’s nothing you can do to solve the problem, and don’t pretend it’s already solved. 

It doesn’t just hurt women when a lineup of keynote speakers is entirely men. It hurts your conference, tech companies, and all of us. 

What do think of the lack of female representation in the Keynote speakers selected for CES this year? Sound off in the comments below!

WIT: Ellen Ullman’s New Book Tackles Tech’s Woman Problem

 

 

 

By J. D. BIERSDORFER of NYTimes

LIFE IN CODE
A Personal History of Technology
By Ellen Ullman

As milestone years go, 1997 was a pretty good one. The computers may have been mostly beige and balky, but certain developments were destined to pay off down the road. Steve Jobs returned to a floundering Apple after years of corporate exile, IBM’s Deep Blue computer finally nailed the world-champion chess master Garry Kasparov with a checkmate, and a couple of Stanford students registered the domain name for a new website called google.com. Nineteen ninety-seven also happened to be the year that the software engineer Ellen Ullman published “Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its
Discontents,” her first book about working as a programmer in a massively male-dominated field.

That slender volume became a classic of 20th-century digital culture literature and was critically praised for its sharp look at the industry, presented in a literary voice that ignored the biz-whiz braggadocio of the early dot-com era. The book had obvious appeal to technically inclined women — desktop-support people like myself then, computer-science majors, admirers of Donna J. Haraway’s feminist cyborg manifesto, those finding work in the newish world of website building — and served as a reminder that someone had already been through it all and took notes for the future.

Then Ullman retired as a programmer, logging out to go write two intense character-driven thriller novels and the occasional nonfiction essay. The digital economy bounced back after the Epic Fail of 2000 and two decades later, those techno-seeds planted back in 1997 have bloomed. Just look at all those smartphones, constantly buzzing with news alerts and calendar notifications as we tell the virtual assistant to find us Google Maps directions to the new rice-bowl place.

What would Ullman think of all this? We can now find out, as she’s written a new book, “Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology,” which manages to feel like both a prequel and a sequel to her first book.

Don’t panic, non-nerds. In addition to writing code in multiple computer languages, Ullman has an Ivy League degree in English and knows how to decode her tech-world adventures into accessible narratives for word people: “Time went on; I graduated from Cornell and moved to San Francisco, where, one day in 1979, I walked past a Radio Shack store on Market Street and saw in the window a microcomputer called the TRS-80. Reader, I bought it.”

Her work as an active programmer spanned about 20 years, ending in the 1990s, but some experiences stay with you forever. “The role they assigned to me, translator, is perhaps the most accurate description of everything I have ever done concerning technology,” she writes of one gig. As I’ve found in my own scribbling about tech, language skills and accurate translation are essential to understanding in both human and computer systems. The most useful bit of prep I had for that came from the two years of Attic Greek I once took to fulfill a curriculum requirement for a theater degree. Converting text into plain language for the inquiring masses is vital, whether it be wrestling Xenophon’s “Anabasis” or Linux engineer notes into English.

The first three-fifths of “Life in Code” is primarily composed of essays published elsewhere between 1994 and 2004, while newer material from 2012 to early 2017 fills out the rest. The technology mentioned within those early chapters often recalls quaint discovery, like finding a chunky, clunky Nokia cellphone in the back of the junk drawer. The piece on preparing computers for the Year 2000 has a musty time-capsule feel, but the philosophical questions posed in other chapters — like those on robotics and artificial intelligence — still resonate.

While the electrified economy had yet to complete its first dramatic cycle of boom and bust when her first book came out, a 1998 essay in “Life in Code” shows Ullman, Cassandra-like and ever the pragmatic pessimist, already bracing for the coming storm. “I fear for the world the internet is creating,” she wrote. “Before the advent of the Web, if you wanted to sustain a belief in far-fetched ideas, you had to go out into the desert, or live on a compound in the mountains, or move from one badly furnished room to another in a series of safe houses.” These days, she’s still concerned about the damage the internet is doing to culture, privacy and civility.

What hasn’t changed in the past 20 years is the dominant demographic of the technology industry and its overall lack of diversity. Ullman addresses these topics in the latter part of the book, as she observes online classes for newer programming languages like Python and feels put off by the “underlying assumption of male, white, geeky American culture” with science fiction TV shows woven into the course material. She worries that this approach may alienate people who aren’t familiar with it, and imagines a time when the general public is writing their own code for the world they need.

“What I hope is that those with the knowledge of the humanities break into the closed society where code gets written: invade it,” Ullman writes. But, she warns, be prepared for an environment of “boyish men who bristle at the idea of anyone unlike them invading their territory.”

She has many stories of her own to share on the topic of gender relations in the office and points out that not all of them were bad. In one case, she tolerates frequent comments about her hair from one addled man in order to learn more about various aspects of computing from him. “I did have pretty hair; I went on to become a software engineer.”

As then, not all men today are hostile to women and many are quite accepting, but the misogyny Ullman experienced in her programming days seems to have escalated in some places. Perhaps this is because of the antler-whacking nature of today’s hyper-driven culture, as illustrated in the situations of women like Susan J. Fowler, who set the executive dominoes cascading at Uber earlier this year with a blog post detailing overt and unchecked sexual harassment by her male manager. A recent 10-page internal memo (by a male Google engineer) that lambasted the company’s diversity efforts also shined a light on workplace culture for some. The abuse of women, the L.G.B.T. community and racial, religious and ethnic minorities on social media is also well-documented — and much more vitriolic than flare-ups like the recent bout of androcentric caterwauling over the casting of a woman in the lead role on “Doctor Who.”

As noted by Anna Wiener in an interview with Ullman for The New Republic, Twitter “would look a lot different today if it had been built by people for whom online harassment was a real-life concern.” When reading “Life in Code” later, I thought of Ullman’s musings about interface design in general: “To build such a crash-resistant system, the designer must be able to imagine — and disallow — the dumbest action.” Let’s face it, a queer female gamer of color is going to have a very different idea of “the dumbest action” than a 23-year-old white brogrammer and we need that perspective. (As for Twitter, Ullman considers the service a broadcaster of “thought farts.”)

It may take a generation, but progress to find balance and representation in the tech and tech-driven world is happening. And the invasion is underway, with women-in-tech groups like Girls Who Code, Project Include and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (the latter named for the Navy rear admiral, herself a programming pioneer) striving for diversification on multiple fronts. Because, as Ullman observes, “the world of programmers is not going to change on its own.” One hopes she’ll check back in 20 years to comment on how it’s going.

Any women in the tech field who get your vote of confidence? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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