WIT – be offended, be visible and stop feeling guilty!

Top tips from adidas’ Nicola Marie Beste – plan for your hour of power

By Madeline Bennett of Diginomica

Imposter syndrome; a lack of helpful role models ; female students discouraged from tech subjects; unconscious bias: these are all common themes that recur during discussions around diversity and gender in technology.

At the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout event, Nicola Marie Beste, Senior Director Projects & Programs at adidas, presented some practical ways women working in IT can overcome these challenges. Beste has encountered plenty of the above during her 20 years working in IT. Her aim now is to help other women succeed in the tech sector, but also to encourage organisations to embrace flexible working for all staff.
Here are her top tips for surviving and thriving in IT.

Call out casual sexism

Beste’s first experience of sexism at work came in her 20s, when she was working as a coder and risk assessor. She was invited to work with a team of 30 systems and manufacturing engineers, tasked with designing a manufacturing simulation system and developing its engine:

I researched, I read about it – I didn’t know a lot about engines so I really studied. I wanted to make sure I was going to be the best risk facilitator there so that I was able to help these people with their great minds come up with a solution.

Beste’s efforts paid off and she managed to help the team find a way to do the project. After the session, they all went for lunch. During the meal, a senior member of the group turned to her to offer some feedback:

He said, ‘When you took your jacket off, people listened to you much more.’ I took a deep breath and said, ‘You have deeply offended me. I spent ages working out how to make this group come up with the solution that we have and it’s not ok and I am offended.’

Then I ran to the loo, had a little bit of a cry.


I decided right there and then that’s enough. It’s not ok to have sexism in the workplace, it’s not ok to make little jokes like that and it’s certainly not ok to say something like that to a young woman in a lunch break. And it is ok to say ‘I’m offended and don’t say that again’ and it’s best to say it out loud and publicly.

Protect your time

Beste insisted that nobody should be working 60 or 70 hours a week. Instead, we should be more clever with our time, and this means starting the week knowing what you intend to do and protecting that time.

Finding your supporters within and outside the workplace is vital to proper time management. One of Beste’s key supporters is her husband, who also works in tech. They sit down every Sunday, get out their calendars, and plan who’ll pick up their two teenage children, drop them off and take them to their doctor’s appointment.

It also pays to seek out employers who truly embrace the concept of flexible working. Before starting at adidas, Beste was working from home and was very nervous about taking a job back in an office with two small kids to look after. But she took the plunge and decided to join adidas after a promise of flexible hours and an on-site kindergarten.

Beste organised a summer play scheme for her kids so she could fully focus on those first few weeks at work – but then on her first day realised that her childcare finished at 5pm rather than 6pm. Her new boss’s reaction proved she had joined the right business: the response was, block out 4pm in your calendar for the next six weeks, let your colleagues know where you are, and go pick up your kids:

You have to give everybody a break. When you’re talking about planning and having your supporters, you need to make sure that you’re not adding a little bit of that ‘She’s not doing her job, she left at 3pm again today’. Men have kids too – that’s how it happens. Make sure your guys also have that time when they need it.

Flexi hours for all – not just parents

Flexible working shouldn’t just be about people with kids, according to Beste. Everyone should be given the opportunity to take some time to do something different, and will become better workers for it:

Maybe you’re a single person, maybe you want to go to a theatre group, maybe you want to go for a run at lunchtime, maybe you want to learn a new language. Whatever it is, you need to make sure you leave time for yourself because if you don’t develop as a person, you’re not going to be a good employee either. We really believe that at adidas. So think about making sure you plan your time. It’s  not a crime to go home on time.

Of course, not all employers are as supportive as adidas, so what was Beste’s advice for those women working at less forward-thinking employers? Start working for someone else, in short. All companies should promote learning for their staff, Beste maintains, as if they’re not savvy to the latest trends, how can they be the best person at work and outside it.

No-one’s perfect

We spend too much time trying to get a certain look or be a certain way, and feeling like a failure if we don’t achieve it, Beste said:

I feel guilty I ate that muffin but it tasted delicious, I feel guilty that I didn’t do sport this morn, I feel guilty that I didn’t have time to talk to some of my team leaders who are going through a difficult situation, I feel guilty that my son wasn’t there when I called last night and I didn’t call back to talk to him, I feel guilty that I’m feeling a bit nervous if I’m doing a good presentation right now.

We have to stop feeling guilty. You can’t do it all. Things go wrong all the time and that’s ok. You can fail. Stop feeling guilty all the time, when you leave on time, when you’re giving your kids time, if you want to go and do something that isn’t your job. It doesn’t mean you’re not passionate about your job. You’re looking after yourself and you’re looking after your company.

Be visible

Beste noted that many of the women in the audience during her session were sat at the back, despite lots of empty free seats at the front. She urged everyone to sit at the front and be visible rather than hiding at the back.

And women need to “stop taking the minutes” – it might be you who has the next idea on how to make your company’s API integration faster, or how to connect that back-end ERP system to the finance system and make it work smoothly:

How can you say that if you’re always the one taking the notes? We’re not a bunch of secretaries, we shouldn’t be doing that. When you come to a meeting, sit at the front of the table and make sure people know you’re there.

Keep learning

Being visible comes with a caveat though – don’t sit upfront and push your ideas if you don’t know the answers. IT is constantly changing, and therefore you have to constantly learn. Beste said:

I want to encourage you all as technical women to never stand still with that. Plan your hour of power.

The hour of power is a scheme initiated by adidas’ CIO for everyone to have an hour in their week to learn something, with the time blocked out in their calendar as an out of office. Beste explained this could be anything from what Google or Uber are doing, to digging deeper into an emerging technology like blockchain or researching a buzzword you heard and want to learn about:

Make sure you learn. As women we need to promote ourselves as technical people and the way to get to the top of your game is to know what you’re talking about, understand the latest trends and make sure when you do sit at the table, you’re able to articulate it and be the best. If you’ve got your devices with you, why don’t you plan [your hour] now?

Tales from the Orchard: Hear Steve Jobs nail the future of mobile a decade ago

An audio recording of an interview with the former Apple CEO comes to light.

By Marrian Zhou of CNet

“The phone of the future will be differentiated by software.” A decade later, in the era of iOS and Android, that prediction by Steve Jobs has come true.

Jointly published Wednesday by The Information and The Wall Street Journal, an audio interview from 2008 reveals the Apple CEO’s thoughts on the future of mobile phones when Apple’s App Store was barely a month old.

“I think there are a lot of people, and I’m one of them, who believe that mobile’s going to get quite serious,” Jobs told reporter Nick Wingfield, then at the Journal and now at The Information. “They can be mighty useful and we’re just at the tip of that. That’s going to be huge, I think.”

The App Store turned 10 this year on July 10, and it’s evident that our lives are vastly different from 2008. Today, 500 million people from 155 countries visit the App Store every week, choosing from more than 2 million apps available for download, according to Statista.

The Apple co-founder, who passed away in October 2011, also got it right when it comes to mobile games.

“You’ve got everything from games to medical software to business analytics software to all sorts of stuff on it,” Jobs said in the 2008 interview, “but games is the single biggest category … I actually think the iPhone and the iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in this mobile gaming market this holiday season.”

Today, the games category of apps available on the App Store tops the platform with a 25 percent market share, according to Statista. The second largest category is business apps, with a 10 percent market share.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can listen to the full interview at The Information or The Wall Street Journal.

WIT: Making Tech Truly Diverse Calls for New Tactics and Renewed Commitment

 

 

By Brenda Darden Wilkerson

This column is part of a series called “Voices of Women in Tech,” created in collaboration with AnitaB.org, a global enterprise that supports women in technical fields, as well as the organizations that employ them and the academic institutions training the next generation.

So much time, effort, and expense go into fixing tech’s diversity problem — why have we seen so little progress?

The proof of our failure is in the data. The 2017 Top Companies for Women Technologists report, which measured more than 547,000 technologists across 63 organizations, showed a mere 1.2 percent year-over-year increase in the number of women in technical roles. Women’s representation in midlevel, senior, and executive roles saw considerably smaller increases of .2 percent, .6 percent, and 1 percent respectively. 

These numbers are likely far higher than the industry at large, since Top Companies participants are already committed to measuring their progress. For women of color, the numbers are even more disheartening. The meager increases in women’s representation have gone almost entirely to white women and women of Asian descent.

For years, tech companies have followed a similar formula to diversify their workforces. They host affinity groups, they hold sensitivity training, they tweak hiring processes. But all of these efforts have yielded scant benefits. If the tech industry continues to “improve” at the current rate, it will take decades before we reach gender parity, and even longer before our workforce accurately reflects the population at large. Clearly, something’s gotta give.

All of us have to be brave and admit that what we’ve been doing is simply not working. We need to face the real data, scrap fruitless initiatives, and take an entirely new approach. This is no time to give in to diversity fatigue!

Why do so many organizations continue to fail? For some, there’s a gap between the desire to look good and the actual effort that progress requires. But even executives with perfect motivations are finding themselves looking at stagnant diversity stats. And I know this is true, because I’m one of them.

I’m the leader of AnitaB.org, the leading organization devoted to the advancement of women in technology. We host the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s biggest gathering of women technologists. We administer Top Companies for Women Technologists, the only program that provides a consistent benchmark of the technical workforce across a wide range of industries.

We are, by all rights, true experts in fostering diversity. And yet, looking at our own internal diversity numbers, I could see no other answer: We had not only failed to move the needle, by most measures we had actually regressed. How could we continue to pressure the industry around us for greater diversity when we ourselves were not able to improve as we intended?

Clearly, we need a new approach. Here’s what we’re advocating: First, the change has to start at the very top. When our board of trustees sought a new CEO for our organization — someone to continue the incredible work that Anita Borg herself began in 1997 — they took a very rare step. Not only did they interview me, a black woman technologist, they hired me. By doing so, they were making a clear statement: It was time for this organization to take the necessary steps toward fully recognizing the intersectionality of the women we serve, and of our own team doing that work.

As part of a series of changes under my leadership, we have hired our first HR director. She’s implementing significantly stronger HR policies and procedures to foster more inclusivity and equity, and helping us adjust our hiring practices — where we advertise, how we assemble interview panels, and other tactical steps — to help us attract a more diverse candidate pool. We’re also requiring that every hiring manager assemble a truly inclusive group of prospective employees. 

When we add to our team, leaders must consider candidates with a variety of intersections, including age, gender, race and ability. We’re also focused on capturing our racial and ethnic data more accurately, especially for those team members who identify with more than one group, to better measure our progress.

 

Right now, I’m also personally vetting every hire we make to ensure we’ve drawn from a broad pool, and that we are bringing on talent that truly reflects the richness of the communities we serve. This commitment takes time away from my other projects, but we accept this trade-off because it’s important to set the tone from the top, and because we cannot continue to operate as we always have.

We’re also focusing on promoting and retaining a diverse set of talented employees — because, frankly, we’ve lost some good people who we wanted to keep. As we always tell the companies who work with us, fixing the “leaky pipeline” is not enough. We cannot hire our way out of this problem. We must fix our retention and promotion process, not simply in addition to hiring better, but first and foremost. 

At our core, we’re technologists: Solving problems is what we do best. We need to focus the same skills that have made technology companies the vanguard of economic growth — disruption and innovation — onto the issues that threaten our industry’s progress.

To win the innovation wars, to fill empty seats, to create products that delight customers, change must start with leadership. Visionary leaders need to make bold moves and acknowledge the depth of the issue. We need to throw out initiatives that haven’t made an impact, look at real data, and build a better way forward. Companies that undertake a new approach are the companies that are going to see change.
And it has to start with those of us who do the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion on a daily basis. 

Already, we’ve seen some progress. Our diversity numbers so far this year look very different than they did at the end of 2017. And, as we set a new baseline and measure ourselves against it, we will be better able to identify places where we’ve improved and those where we’ve regressed, codifying our tactics for future gains. We don’t expect everything to work perfectly — there is no silver bullet — but we do expect to take honest and unflinching measurements of what does move the needle.

Fixing tech’s diversity issues is truly personal for me, and for everyone who works at AnitaB.org. As we offer ourselves as an example, we want the companies we work with to know we’re willing to do the same critical work and, as leaders, hold ourselves personally accountable in the same ways that we’re demanding of them. 

Brenda Darden Wilkerson serves as the President and CEO of
AnitaB.org, an organization working to shape public opinion about issues of critical importance to women technologists in academia, industry, and government.

WIT: Women in tech – it’s not about being Wonder Woman!

Women working in IT bemoan the lack of relatable role models

By Madeline Bennett of diginomica.com

Quick quiz for you – name the first woman in tech that comes into your head.

If I could do a tally of the answers, I reckon there’s a good chance that names like Martha Lane Fox, Sheryl Sandberg, Meg Whitman and Marissa Meyer would crop up regularly. This well-known group have all proved you can make it to the top in technology as a woman.

But how valuable are they as inspiration for young women making decisions about whether to take a computing A-level or degree over French, English or Geography? Or whether to consider an apprenticeship or career in technology even though it’s still a heavily male-dominated arena?

Not very, according to attendees at the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout event in London. It’s well accepted that role models play a vital part in encouraging more women to join the tech industry. But as Jen Grant, CMO at Looker, noted during a panel discussion on attracting the next generation of tech talent, it’s always Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Meyer whose names come up. The problem is, these women aren’t particularly relatable to the majority of young women at school, university or early in their careers, and so Grant would like to see a broader range of people highlighted as role models for women in tech.

Justine Haworth, Global Head of Digital Engagement at HSBC, feels that there is less of a link between young women and the IT industry now than there was when she joined the sector 30 years ago as a graduate trainee. It’s now either geeks in basements or superwomen, she explained:

“I don’t think we describe roles in technology and roles in science in a way that females can relate to them. Today, we don’t make them attractive. There are a lot of stereotypes that we associate with jobs in technology – darkened basements, hoodies, green screens.

Even when you look nowadays at female role models in science and technology in films, they’re always portrayed almost as super-heroines, as something really different. It feels really unattainable, [young women] can’t relate to it because [they] don’t understand where [their] skills fit in this sort of world. Films like Black Panther, you’ve got these super geeky girls, there’s nowhere in between. It’s shrouded in a lack of realism.”

Jo Morfee, Founder at InnovateHer, called for more role models who are everyday, normal human beings, real people achieving in the world of technology and solving real-world problems. She gave the example of UK startup Open Bionics, which makes low-cost 3D-printed prosthetics for amputees. The firm partnered with Disney to create limbs modeled on Iron Man or Elsa from Frozen, and has succeeded in making them more accessible and affordable for its target audience of young children. Now, rather than kids being asked how they lost a limb, they get asked how they got their cool robot hand.

But this mentality of finding ways to broaden the appeal of technology hasn’t made its way into the early years schooling system yet. Morfee referred to 2017 research from Centrica, which revealed that both male and female teachers feel STEM careers are better suited to men than women.

Morfee’s colleague Chelsea Slater, Founder at InnovateHer, said there is still a barrier in education for girls not feeling they have a place in the technology industry, and this is affecting their choice of subjects to study and career paths to pursue. Slater added:

“A lot of teachers are telling them they can become teachers, nurses, doctors, hairdressers, things that tend to be a little bit more caring and that girls get boxed into. The boys are getting told to go into engineering and science.”

Slater gave the example of a 15 year-old girl she was mentoring last year, who loves engineering and wanted to study the subject as a GCSE. Her teacher declined her request as she would be the only girl in the class.

Fortunately, she persuaded a friend to take the course with her and so was allowed on to it.

The problem here is that teachers are so overworked and under-resourced, Slater maintains, that they are pushing the traditional roles and career paths onto girls and boys because that’s all they know.

Progress

While work is clearly needed within the education sector to ensure teachers are aware of the opportunities out there for young women in STEM, this year’s Women in Silicon Roundabout conference demonstrated the strides made on the corporate side. The event, which is only in its third year, attracted 4,500 attendees, almost four times as many as 2017. It had sponsorship from some of the biggest names on the global business stage – Goldman Sachs, HSBC, BP, Adidas, Sainsbury’s Argos, AstraZeneca to name a few – as well as the big guns of the tech world, from Google to Ebay to Amazon.

Only a few years ago, diversity in tech events would have failed to attract much interest outside the technology sector. Now, organizations in every industry are rushing to throw their money and opinions behind the cause – but how much of this is due to them truly valuing and understanding the importance of diversity and inclusivity? And how much is just paying lip service to the latest trendy cause, the new greenwash?

Haworth believes that by sponsoring women in tech events and making data available for projects like the Tech Talent Charter, shows firms like HSBC are heading in the right direction:

“We’re working at a time when we’re trying to reverse decades of unconscious and conscious bias. I’m really encouraged by the commitment at the top of my organization around both diversity and inclusion. It’s not just about having the right distribution of people. All of those people have to be allowed to fulfill their potential so we as a bank can fulfill our potential.”

HSBC leadership is well aware, Haworth added, of the data that demonstrates where the bank has diverse leadership teams, those teams make better decisions and those decisions lead to better business outcomes, and hence an improvement in profitability.

But balanced against this awareness of the benefits of diversity, is the stark reality of the ongoing battle for tech talent. Haworth sees a risk that the lack of skilled technology staff might lead to firms diminishing their diversity efforts to just get the vacancies filled.

HSBC, which currently has 1,000 open technology vacancies across the world, is taking steps to ensure diversity does not get sidelined. All its hiring managers are undergoing specialist training to reduce and eliminate bias, and to ensure they are tailoring interviews to reflect that men and women demonstrate their skills better in different ways. Haworth added:

“I would love for over 50% of those roles in technology in its broadest sense – they’re not just engineering roles, they’re product manager, project manager, data scientist, optimisation specialist – wouldn’t it be amazing if over 50 percent of those roles were taken by females? Together we can make this happen.

There is a disproportionate number of females at the top, HSBC included, but when you go to the middle and lower management layers, that’s not the case. We’ve all got a role to play in making this happen. There will always be people who pay lip service, but our strength as females is our unity.”

My take

What struck me most when listening to the views shared by the panel were those relating to the school-age girls, exactly the people we want to be including in diversity efforts. Slater’s example of a young woman being turned away from an engineering course as she’d be the only female is an attitude I’d have expected from teachers 20 or even 10 years ago. That young women are still being discouraged from taking STEM courses, rather than teachers welcoming them and making an effort to actively recruit more girls, is alarming.

I’ve also raised the point before that women in technology events often promote those who’ve already reached the top or have done something incredible and unique.  So Haworth’s point about super heroines certainly rang true; let’s hear a little less about Sheryl Sandberg and Shuri*, and more from the everyday female software developers, systems engineers and product managers, who are just a few rungs up the ladder from school children considering their options.

*Black Panther’s super heroine technology genius

Weekly Round Up 7/27/18

 

 

The last, really great one died in Oct of 2011…
Where have all the great tech leaders gone?

Anyone else think this sounds like a Stephen King book waiting to happen?
A Tech Test to Keep Seniors in Their Homes Longer

This really isn’t news, is it?
How technology and social media is undermining family relationships

Well, sh*t. There goes my mid-morning naps…
Beware. This Tech Can Detect Snoozers At Work, Blast Them With Cold Air

 

I don’t understand. Is there no Postmates out there?
San Francisco Bay Area cities are cracking down on free food at Facebook and other tech companies

 

Um… for the same reason they let Russian Trolls Hijack our election. They don’t care.
A year after Charlottesville, why can’t big tech delete white supremacists?

 

There’s no way I’d take that job…
WHY CONGRESS NEEDS TO REVIVE ITS TECH SUPPORT TEAM

Duh?!

Have the tech giants grown too powerful? That’s an easy one

Almost as much as they hate going into debt over a routine illness. God, our Healthcare sucks.

A big overlooked flaw with health tech: Patients hate going to the doctor

 

Way to go, Trump.
Liberty, equality, technology: France is finally poised to become a tech power

WIT: We need more women in tech in order to get more women in tech

The problem becomes exponentially easier to solve once you’ve begun to solve it.

 

By David Yang and Nimit Maru of Recode.net

While the United States is seeing more women in leadership positions within politics and even classic old-boys-industries like finance, the tech sector can’t say the same. More startups than ever — 70 percent, to be exact — have absolutely no women on their boards of directors, and the same is true for their executive-level employees: More than half of all startups have entirely male executive teams.

And when we drill down to the computing sector — where are nested the kinds of jobs we train students for — the numbers are even more dire: The percentage of computing occupations held by women has declined sharply since the early 1990s, when it peaked at just over 35 percent of occupations held by women, despite the fact that slightly more than half of all college grads are women.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that our current efforts either aren’t working or aren’t being applied on a grand enough scale.

We need to start earlier.

We need to get everyone on board. “Diversity and inclusion,” while incredibly important as an initiative, can’t be viewed as merely that, a siloed initiative that happens in parallel with the same old ways of doing things or is overlaid at the end of projects to make sure everything looks kosher to outsiders. It has to be interwoven into an organization’s protocols.

Women, for example, have to feel comfortable being emotional in workplace conversations and not feel like they can’t bring that part of themselves to the job just because men are taught to operate that way. The default way of conducting business can’t be the “male” way.

Minorities have to feel that micro-aggressions will be taken seriously and not written off as “sensitivities” or “overreactions.” And companies have to go beyond “token” employees — because hiring only one woman or one person of color can be exhausting for that person and cause them to leave. It comes down to this: Companies can’t work toward moving the needle on big issues and then gloss over the small things.

Those little, interpersonal things add up to company culture, no matter what the values on the website say, and it’s precisely the day-to-day concerns that will drive women and people of color away, no matter how much energy a company puts into big-picture efforts.

We also need to come to a cultural understanding that the opposite of systematic disadvantage is systematic advantage. Though that seems obvious enough, initiatives like the Grace Hopper Program, which offer benefits exclusively to women, get a lot of pushback from men (and women, surprisingly enough) who see these policies as “sexist” and ultimately damaging to women, sending the message that women need a helping hand and undermining the idea of women as independent and just as strong as men. But the truth is that women do need at least one helping hand in light of the many hands that have held them down for so long. It’s one thing to say that women aren’t inherently less capable; of course they aren’t. But it’s essential to recognize that society has enforced handicaps, and women’s inherent abilities aren’t the only factors at play.

We’ve seen these same arguments against systematic advantage in the affirmative action context — that built-in preference of historically disadvantaged groups is somehow damaging to those groups. But you won’t see those who argue against affirmative action or scholarships for minorities or deferred tuition for women also arguing against the tacit advantage that majority groups have had for centuries, if not millennia. And that’s because the adage is true: When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Majority groups that have been unfairly advantaged for too long see any even minute reduction in that unfair advantage as an all-out attack.

We know that initiatives like the Grace Hopper Program’s deferred-tuition model — where women train now and pay only once they find full-time, in-field employment — work. Take Leila Loezer, for example, a Grace Hopper grad originally from Brazil. She came to the U.S. in 2008, and after reading about our unique tuition model in the Women Who Code newsletter, completed our program and was ultimately hired by the New York Stock Exchange.

So it’s on all of us, but especially organizations with a strong following, a wide reach and high-profile leadership, to articulate both the general need for and their specific support for systematic advantage as a tool to combat systematic disadvantage. In this way, we can scale up these efforts — because more women in the industry naturally begets more women in the industry, and the problem becomes exponentially easier to solve once you’ve begun to solve it.

Some 94 percent of Grace Hopper grads ultimately find full-time, in-field work, which means that every year, we’re injecting hundreds of high-quality female engineers into the tech sector. But it also means that those female engineers will attract even more female engineers.

A study from 2016 revealed that 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking and referrals. When both your team and the industry are majority male, you can bet your referrals are going to be majority male. So the snake eats its tail and the problem proliferates.

But when women — who have likely found support in small, women-friendly communities like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code, Black Girls Code, etc. — join your organization, suddenly your pipeline includes those very targeted groups. And more importantly, when many of the women from those groups see your company as more friendly and more accessible — you already employ a woman they know — they suddenly have a chance at employment that they didn’t have before.

What do think needs to be done in order to get more women into the Tech world? Tell us in the comments below!

WIT: This Silicon Valley exec has dedicated her career to empowering women. Has it worked?

 

By Shanon Gupta of CNN Tech

When Sukhinder Singh Cassidy would look around boardrooms, all she’d see were men.

In her 20-plus year career in Silicon Valley, she had only sat on one gender-balanced company board.

“The candor of discussion among all participants was definitely stronger on [that] board,” the entrepreneur told CNNMoney. Cassidy knew there had to be a way to increase the representation of women.

Her solution? Hire more women directors.

“There are a number of seats in the boardroom, versus just one seat as CEO,” she explained. That makes the boardroom the perfect place to gather diverse perspectives.

Three years ago, she created theBoardlist, a site that connects female leaders with opportunities on tech company boards — 75% to 78% of which have no women at all, according to the company’s research.

The site invites executives and investors to help identify and recommend candidates. So far, more than 2,000 female business leaders have joined the site.

Since its launch, theBoardlist says it’s helped place more than 100 women on private and public company boards, including Aparna Chennapragada to Capital One’s board in March.

Before launching the theBoardlist, Cassidy was the founder and CEO of the online shopping network, Joyus, and the CEO of Polyvore, a website that allowed users to make fashion collages. This year, she became the president of Stubhub.

CNNMoney asked Cassidy about her fight to make Silicon Valley more inclusive for women, the power of #MeToo and the scariest part about running her own business.

Where did you find your inspiration for TheBoardlist?

I was a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, serving on public boards, and asked by a venture capitalist, “What can we do to solve the problem for women in tech?” (He was referring to the lack of women in the tech industry.)


I suggested that 100% of VCs in the valley could act now by putting a great woman leader on the board of every company they funded. I believed we could change the game significantly with this one simple act at the top.

While I pitched the idea to him and several other VCs, none took me up on the offer. A year later, I continued to be frustrated by the continued narrative about how there were so few women in tech, and I wanted to provide a tangible solution.

I reached out to 50 influential leaders in Silicon Valley and they helped me launch theBoardlist in less than 45 days.

Has the #MeToo movement had an impact on theBoardlist’s goals or mission?

Our mission has not changed from the day we launched: improve gender diversity in the boardroom.

What has changed is the environment in which we operate. Movements like #MeToo have brought greater visibility and accountability to behavior in the workplace, causing more people to seek out ways to address the issue.

So, while our mission hasn’t changed, the urgency and demand for solutions like theBoardlist have certainly increased.

Have attitudes toward women in Silicon Valley changed since you launched three years ago?

There has definitely been movement in the right direction.

TheBoardlist recently highlighted 30 public and private tech companies that have at least one woman on their board. We receive requests from men and women alike every day for qualified female talent to fill open board seats.

But, when we look at the overall picture — with theBoardlist’s research showing that only 7% of board seats at private tech companies filled by women — we know we still have a long way to go.

What’s the scariest part of your job?

The scariest part is living in constant uncertainty over a period of years, not months.

As a founder and CEO in the tech industry there are two big truths: Change is constant and timing is everything.

Innovation de facto means doing something different from the status quo. But consumers may not yet be ready to adopt even the best new ideas, despite what you build.

And while you are trying to find the right product for the market, the landscape itself keeps changing with new competitors and other companies also pivoting into your space. This creates even more uncertainty.

While I’ve gotten comfortable living with constant change, the fear of pouring all I’ve got into a company or idea and knowing it might not pan out never quite goes away.

If I could tell my 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

To relax. It all works out as it’s supposed to for each of us.
I was even more intense and impatient when I was younger, but I did ultimately find my place in Silicon Valley where I thrived by embracing my strengths and going where they were valued.
I believe you can’t “force” everything to happen, but you can feel confident that if you know who you are and focus on excelling in one or two areas where you shine, you will find your professional and personal success.

What brings you the most joy?

Personally, my children and family and being with them. Professionally, its building new experiences that consumers love and working with tremendous people along the way to achieve that goal.

If you could have dinner with any influential figure from any time period, who would it be with and why?

Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, because I’m awed by leaders who embrace their resisters and create change over very long periods of time using patience and calm, peaceful protest.

This is often in contrast to the high speed, highly competitive and rapid return mindset we practice in industries like technology. Seeing the lasting and global impact of leaders of this type is inspiring on both a leadership level, but also a deeply personal one.

I’m especially inspired by their abilities to create change using fundamentally different skills than the ones I have.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Creating and building new joyful, delightful or empowering experiences that lots of people love to use.

I’d also like to be remembered as someone who was able to accelerate the success of others throughout my professional career, and who always acted with great authenticity and integrity.

What’s something most people probably don’t know about you?

My parents were doctors, but my father loved being an entrepreneur as much as he loved medicine.

He exposed me to every aspect of his business from a very young age and taught me the value of working for myself. I look back on him today and understand the power of being raised by the quintessential entrepreneur.

If you weren’t a founder and CEO, what would you be?

I’d be a film producer because I loved making movies in high school and am always moved by the power of great storytelling through film.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work really hard and do great work for great people. There is no substitute for the value of putting your head down and being known as the person who will over deliver without ever needing to be asked.

Tales form the Orchard: Apple Nabs Oprah in Latest A-List Grab

 

 

By Kimberly Roots of TVLine.com

Apple just got OWN’d.

Oprah Winfrey has entered a multi-year content partnership with the tech company, Apple announced Friday.

The producer/actress/talk-show host/force of nature will join Apple in creating “original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” per the official release.

Winfrey’s projects will be part of Apple’s robust slate of original content, which includes a Reese Witherspoon/Jennifer Aniston-starring series set at a morning talk show, a comedy featuring Hailee Steinfeld as poet Emily Dickinson, and dramas from directors Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). The tech giant has also ordered the thriller Are You Sleeping, headlined by Octavia Spencer, and an untitled Kristen Wiig comedy, both executive-produced by Witherspoon.

Winfrey’s national TV career began with her daytime gabfest The Oprah Winfrey Show; her Harpo Productions company are responsible for Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show and Rachael Ray. She founded the cable network OWN, of which she is CEO and chairman, in 2011.

At the Golden Globes ceremony in January, she was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille award and accepted with a speech that many hoped hinted at a future presidential bid. (Winfrey later said that she was not interested in running for office.)

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare to speak their truth to the power of [brutally powerful] men,” Winfrey said in her remarks. “But their time is up… A new day is on the horizon! And when that day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women… and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that… nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again!”

Tales From the Orchard: Apple Just Made Safari the Good Privacy Browser

 

By Lily Hay Newman of Wired.com

APPLE ANNOUNCED A slew of new software features at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, including an augmented reality upgrade and animojis that can stick out their tongues when you do. But the company’s latest desktop and mobile operating systems contain a more subtle, yet more radical, innovation. The newest version of Apple’s Safari browser will push back hard against the ad-tracking methods and device fingerprinting techniques that marketers and data brokers use to monitor web users as they browse. Starting with Facebook.

The next version of Safari will explicitly prompt you when a website tries to access your cookies or other data, and let you decide whether to allow it, a welcome step toward explicit choices about online tracking. Safari will also make a dent in defeating the so-called “fingerprinting” approach, in which marketers use publicly accessible information about devices—like the way they’re configured, the fonts they have installed, and the plug-ins they run—to assign them an individual, trackable ID. In macOS Mojave and iOS 12, Safari will scrub much of this data, exposing only generic configuration information and default fonts. The browser will also stop supporting legacy plugins. The idea is to make your Mac indistinguishable from millions of others, muting the fingerprinting effect.

“Data companies are clever and relentless,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said on Monday, explaining why Apple pushed to add these features. The company calls the set of tools “Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0,” and they feature WebKit changes, like eliminating a 24-hour grace period that gave trackers a day of cookie access.

The new version of Safari will also help improve password hygiene by offering to generate, autofill, and store strong passwords. It’s a well-intentioned approach, although one that can be problematic depending on how it’s deployed. The browser will now also audit password reuse to try to discourage people from using the same password for multiple services—a crucial way consumers can reduce their risk of being impacted by data breaches.

The antitracking features continue Apple’s assault on ad tech; last year’s Safari update prevented video and audio from autoplaying, and the then-nascent Intelligent Tracking Prevention Webkit tool worked to identify and block tracking cookies. This year’s updates, though, take things a step further by significantly expanding the tracking techniques Safari can block or warn users about.

Apple’s not the only company to toughen up its browser against privacy and security menaces. As with Chrome’s Do Not Track mechanism, Apple seems to have based some of the new Safari protections on research from Mozilla, which offers its own protections in the Firefox browser. In February, Chrome also started offering native ad-blocking measures to bring more comprehensive protections to users based on standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. There are also browser plugins like Ghostery, Privacy Badger, and Adblock Plus to help stymie various tracking techniques. But Apple’s efforts in Mojave and iOS 12 appear to be the most prominent and comprehensive yet.

Though the new privacy mechanisms will potentially hinder all sorts of tracking, Apple specifically called out Facebook’s massive ad network—which is known for employing an array of user tracking strategies, like its ubiquitous “Like” buttons. In one of the slides depicting an example of how Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 will work, Apple’s Federighi showed a Safari page open to Facebook with a popup notification reading “Do you want to allow ‘facebook.com’ to use cookies and website data while browsing ‘blabbermouth.net’? This will allow ‘facebook.com’ to track your activity.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request from WIRED for comment, and the platform is certainly not the only large ad network incorporating these techniques. But it’s a prominent player that has received extensive criticism for letting a variety of user data tracking tools run rampant. The company’s chief information security officer Alex Stamos noted on Twitter that it doesn’t seem like the new Safari will block tracking pixels or Javascript components, which are notorious for being exploitable as trackers or by bad actors for malicious activity.
Stamos seemed more focused on blasting Apple’s attempt to single Facebook out, but it’s true that this generation of Intelligent Tracking Prevention will inevitably have limitations. It’s difficult to fully block online tracking methods without also eroding website usability, and different privacy initiatives have approached dealing with this conflict in different ways.

“The consent popups will be a big deal to people. It’s more visual so you know that they are attempting to track you versus it just happening in the background silently,” says Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher and the president of Sudo Security Group. “I guess the real test will be how well these measures work and how advertisers and trackers will react.”

Google and Firefox already offer plenty of solid ad-blocking and antitracking mechanisms, and offer a host of other features that may make them more desirable than Apple’s browser. But if privacy matters most to you, it might be time to give Safari a try.

What’s your preferred browser or method for protecting your privavy online? Sound off in the comments below!

WIT: Supermodel Karlie Kloss’ videos showcase brilliant women in tech

Following up on her coding camps, the next step in the Kode With Klossy initiative is highlighting role models in science and tech.

 

By Katie Collins of CNet

Women perform vital work in science and technology every day. Yet their stories often go untold, leaving girls short of visible role models.

Supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss wants to help change this by shining a light on women who can inspire the next generation of female techies and scientists.
Kloss released on Tuesday a four-part video series called Trailblazers of STEAM to showcase the work of eight women in tech and science who are pushing boundaries in their fields. STEAM, a variant of STEM, stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Each episode examines a different niche — games, food, mobility and space — to show the wide variety of jobs within science and technology. The interviews, which include former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, dig into their work and what it’s like being a woman in their fields. Kloss doesn’t shy away from asking her subjects about the challenges they’ve encountered and overcome, including how others perceive them and how they’ve handled their own internal struggles.

Kloss had already been focusing on tech through her Kode With Klossy initiative that runs coding camps for teenage girls across the US. 
Kloss told CNET over email about her hopes for the series, which is a collaboration with Ford STEAM Experience, the car company’s education outreach program.

Q. When you spoke to the amazing women featured in the videos, all of whom work in different STEAM-related fields, what things in their careers did they have in common that helped them get to where they are today?

Kloss: They all shared this unrelenting drive and passion for what they do. It was really awesome to spend a day in their worlds and get to see their determination in action. What also struck me was that each of the women I met for the series talked about experiencing uncertainty or self-doubt at different points in their careers — whether in college, grad school or at their first entry level jobs. They didn’t let those feelings of self-doubt stop them from working hard and pursuing their passions. Everyone has experienced self-doubt at one point or another and it’s important to openly acknowledge those feelings but not let them get in the way of your success.

Q: What would be your advice to a young woman who wanted to work in a STEAM field, but didn’t know where to focus her learning or what path to pursue?

Kloss: To start, apply for Kode With Klossy! We help girls access hands-on computer science education and connect with a community of other women in STEAM. It’s a great place to start!

Beyond applying to our program, my advice for any girl interested in pursuing a career in STEAM is to identify your passions (fashion, social justice, music, etc.) and find out how technology is being applied to those passions. The incredible thing about code, and the first lesson we teach our Kode With Klossy scholars, is that code is a really creative language that can be applied to every industry and space. This series is living proof of how technology is shaping everything from food to gaming to space exploration.

Q: Tell me something you learned about an aspect of science or technology while making the series that blew you away.

Kloss: Talking to each woman in the series was eye-opening, but as someone who is interested in both health and the environment, I was really fascinated by my conversation with Lina Pruitt, a process engineer at Beyond Meat. She uses science and engineering to create a plant-based meat substitute that looks and cooks just like meat. We talked about both the environmental and health impacts of food waste and meat consumption, as well as the future of food and what that means for our world. Food is one of those industries that doesn’t always seem scientific, though in reality, is heavily influenced by STEAM. That’s one of our goals with this series — to show how STEAM intersects with and can applied to whatever industry you’re passionate about.

Q: What do you hope people take away from this series and what do you hope their wider impact will be? 

Kloss: Our goal is to address the notion that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” By highlighting these real, accomplished women and their career paths, we hope that young women and girls can visualize themselves in similar positions. We wanted to show our viewers what a career in STEAM actually looks like and how code can be applied to a number of different industries.

Even outside of STEAM, our goal is to celebrate women bringing hard work and creativity to their endeavors. One cool, behind-the-scenes tidbit about the series is that our production team was women-led, including our amazing director Eliza McNitt. It was important for us and the broader Kode With Klossy mission that the series was by-women-for-women.

What do think of Karlie Kloss’ STEM initiative? Sound off in the comments below!

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