WIT: Yes, Women Can Rise To The Top In Tech. Just Ask The President Of Soundcast

 

By Manon DeFelice of Forbes.com

Standing out as one of the few among just 5% of women who hold an executive position in the male-dominated audio industry, Charity Hardwick has an inside view on what it takes to get to the top. Hardwick recently earned the title of president at Soundcast, one of the leading outdoor audio companies in the consumer tech industry.

Handpicked by former Soundcast president and CEO Oscar Ciornei to ring in the next series of Soundcast releases, Hardwick has followed a circuitous career path that ultimately unfolds into a unique rising-star story. (And like so many heroes, she’s also a mom.) I connected with Hardwick to hear her thoughts about what women need to do to break into the tough world of tech—proving their mettle, busting through stereotypes, and persevering, like she did, against unlikely odds.

Manon DeFelice: How did you get where you are today as a rare woman in the consumer-tech executive sphere?

Charity Hardwick: When I was a child, I was enamored with the Bewitched TV show. I didn’t want to be a nose-twitching witch, however—I wanted to be Darrin Stephens (sans alcohol problem). I wanted to be an executive solving brand challenges with creativity and the flexibility to work out problems in new ways.

More than anything, I’d love to share a story with other women and underrepresented workforces that contains some sort of magic formula—a path to becoming successful and breaking the glass ceiling. Truth is, it’s not magic, or easy, to work one’s way up through the ranks in any industry, let alone an industry dominated by men.

Along my path, I often wondered how a career that began in the military, in the medical field and ran the gamut of finance, real estate, outdoor sporting goods and finally, technology, could possibly add up to an actual point? Sometimes we won’t see the point until much later. Tenacity will reveal the point. Not every day is a win and sometimes the small magic that can be claimed is simply not giving up that day.

DeFelice: Can you give us a peek into the future of high-fidelity audio? What’s new from Soundcast?

Hardwick: Soundcast has been creating award-winning wireless audio systems for over 10 years now. First to market with a complete outdoor-designed audio system, we have now released an entire line of micro to huge portables suited for the outdoor and on-the-go lifestyle.

As a company made up of musicians and audio fans, we are committed to best-in-class audio supporting hi-res files from any source, whether that be pairing with existing indoor systems to create an outdoor zone, streaming music from a personal audio device, or adding it to an Alexa control or Sonos indoor wireless streaming network.

We’ve released the VGX Series of products this year to provide flexibility for the backyard or on the go that achieves gorgeous ambient music or bass-busting party music. Music fans today realize that they shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to listen to their music in wet, sandy or messy situations, and we agree.

DeFelice: How do you reconcile motherhood with a busy career?

Hardwick: In her recently published book, Pick Three, Randi Zuckerberg suggests that in order to be really successful one has to sacrifice something—whether that’s work, sleep, family, fitness or friends. She argues that one can’t keep up with more than three of these areas and be highly successful. I’ve seen men boast that they can get a job like this done in 40 hours a week with plenty of time to spare. But to be a successful woman in an industry that’s predominantly male requires women to exceed all expectations; that requires massive hours and effort to perform. Couple this with motherhood and I’m surprised I can pull off more than “pick two” on the Zuckerberg list.

Motherhood isn’t a burden; it’s a unique advantage that I’m given. We mothers stay tuned in and sensitive to the needs of others, can multitask like nobody’s business and exhibit the most incredible depths of loyalty and strength . I’m thrilled to be modeling behavior for my daughter that she can take in any direction she chooses. Whether that is conquering the world, or painting it—she’s going to know she can do it.

DeFelice: What do you do to keep your company women-forward and family-friendly?

Hardwick: As a company, Soundcast is focused on three things: quality, professionalism and fun. If we’re going to accomplish those things, we must be supporting the individual and family in the best way. For those who need them, we offer flexible work hours and remote work (we have several employees working around the globe), and we celebrate each other and our families here.

I’ve heard it said that you can teach an employee a skill or an industry, but you can’t teach an employee to care. Care is modeled behavior; when a company shows care, we foster care. When care is fostered, the beneficiary is not only our own company but our customers as well.

DeFelice: Can you share advice with women who want to succeed in the male-dominated world of tech?

Hardwick: The only barriers that stand in the way are the ones that we allow to be created around us—the ones we accept . As a female executive in the CE/Audio industry, I look around and I’m missing the representation next to me that gives voice to the needs and language of a huge segment of customers that is not being fully acknowledged. It’s up to us to challenge that.

Support and solidarity is hugely important for women in tech as it may be easy to find oneself becoming isolated or marginalizing one’s own experience and potential. I have a strong group of accomplished professional women in the Women in Consumer Technology group who I receive support from.

There is true opportunity for women here—women who do not accept the assumptions or criticism of their peers as it’s doled out through an outdated and narrow perspective. Embrace those terms that others reject—terms like abrasive, directional and headstrong. It’s when we break through this insecure criticism from peers that we can rise to the next level.

WIT: Why the Trolls Are Winning the Internet: Ex-Reddit CEO Speaks Out

She sounded the alarm on Silicon Valley. Now the former Reddit CEO is finally seeing things start to change.

 

By Kimberly Weisul of Inc.com

Ellen Pao knows the startup world–and its skeletons–inside and out. The former venture capitalist and one-time CEO of Reddit is now the co-founder and CEO of Project Include, a nonprofit that advises tech companies on diversity and inclusion. Pao first rocked Silicon Valley in 2012 by suing her employer, legendary venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination. Though she ultimately lost, her lawsuit sparked a long-overdue reckoning about how the tech industry treats women and people of color, and helped lay the groundwork for the ongoing #MeToo movement.

In a wide-ranging interview, Pao explains why this is a critical moment for women in Silicon Valley, calls for greater regulation of the biggest internet companies, and warns entrepreneurs against the worst mistakes she sees founders make.

So much has happened in tech in the past year, from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal to #MeToo. What, if anything, do you see changing?
We’re only starting to find out what can happen to our data on the big tech platforms, and how little control we’ve had over it–and even Facebook has had over it. It’s 100 percent clear the tech platforms cannot manage themselves. I’m not a fan of regulation, but that may be the only way to make things better. We’ve reached the last resort. Other options have failed.

For women in tech, this will be a really important year. We’ve had all these things happen, and now we have people who are actually open to change. I want to push as much change through as possible.

You’ve worked in venture capital, at startups, and at big tech companies. What value do you think VCs bring to startups?
They bring value in their networks. And they’ve seen a lot of things, so they can potentially help you troubleshoot. But they also bring a lot of baggage. VCs want a board seat. They may have giant egos and want you to do something a certain way. They may want you to go public, or sell earlier than you want to sell. They may be tracking metrics that you don’t believe in.

So do you advise founders to seek, or avoid, venture investors?
I don’t know that I would raise venture capital unless I really believed in the investor. I hope that in the future we can find alternative sources of funding, that it becomes easier to self-fund, and that people can get to profitability earlier.

When you invested in startups, what mistakes did you see entrepreneurs make repeatedly?
The worst was when entrepreneurs tried to postpone solving difficult problems, hoping they’d just magically disappear. That never happens. Especially the people issues–those get worse unless you have a conversation with those involved. And even then it’s 50/50–but if you don’t have the conversation, you can be 100 percent sure that it will get worse.

Also, don’t spend your money just because you have it. Be frugal, because your runway is really important. You don’t want employees who are there just because you’re spending a ton of money on events or on alcohol or on a fancy chef. You want people who are there to do their work and not for the fringe benefits. Focus on giving them great work to do and valuing the work that they are doing.

You left Reddit in 2015, after becoming interim CEO and trying to crack down on the site’s widespread hate speech. How have the large social-media platforms changed since then?
They’re more siloed, and more artificial. The idea of having authentic inter­actions on these platforms is less realistic. Instead, we see people marketing propaganda, or pushing for their idea in a way that might not be truthful.

It makes me really sad, because the internet is such a powerful tool, and it introduced this idea that you could connect with anyone. And it’s been turned into this weapon used to hurt and harass people.

What does that mean for the people who run these companies? How should they be responding to the abuse on their platforms?
You always have an obligation to keep your users safe, to make sure they are not going to be harassed or shoved off your platform for expressing their ideas, or attacked in real life by people sharing their private information.

Those should have been principles from the beginning. I do think the people who started the internet thought it was going to be a force for good, and I don’t think they anticipated the level of harassment and invasiveness and harm that people would use these platforms for. But at the minimum, you want to prevent bad things from happening on your platform.

What limits on free speech, if any, are acceptable in trying to curb online harassment and bullying?
The definition of free speech has become convoluted. It originally meant protection of the press from government intervention. Now it’s come to mean that people should be able to say whatever they want on tech platforms, which are run by private companies. This idea, that private companies have this obligation to allow any kind of speech, is actually not something that is legally required.

Tech companies created some confusion early on, because a lot of founders used “free speech” as a marketing angle. “Express whatever ideas you want!”

But when you make it a free-for-all, people unfortunately come out with their most terrible insults, and this horrible online harassment that we’ve seen get worse and worse over the past several years.

There has always been some censorship on platforms. They have always taken down spam and some child porn. It’s just when you get into certain types of content that people get really upset.

One of the big problems is that these platforms were built by homogeneous teams, who didn’t experience the harassment themselves, and who don’t have friends who were harassed. Some of them still don’t understand what other people are experiencing and why change is so important.

Is it possible to create a place where people can safely express any ideas online, no matter how controversial?
I don’t think it’s possible anymore except at very small scale, because the nature of interactions at scale has become very attention-focused: “The angrier and meaner I am online, the more attention I get.” This has created a high-energy, high-emotion, conflict-oriented set of interactions. And there’s no clear delineation around what’s a good or a bad engagement. People just want engagement.

Are any tech leaders taking this problem seriously?
I have been really impressed by [Medium founder and Twitter co-founder] Ev Williams’s coming out and saying, “Look, we didn’t understand back then what the internet was going to become, and we really need to rethink what we’re doing.”

Another problem is that employees who manage the behavior on these platforms are not valued. It’s hourly work, and the people who do it aren’t necessarily trained that well. So you’re expecting people who are clocking in and clocking out to figure out hate speech–which constitutional law professors are still constantly debating.

On top of that, you’re asking them to deal with hate and harassment directed at them personally. At Reddit, we had employees who got doxxed [had their private information published online]. So there’s a lot of fear, and it’s justified.

Meanwhile, the employees don’t see an upside; nobody really seems to be holding them accountable for making sure the platform rules are being followed. So any rules are not implemented well.

These platforms, especially Facebook, collect a large amount of data. Why did it take the Cambridge Analytica scandal to raise widespread alarm?
Because the data collection was marketed really well–a thumbs-up seems so innocuous! You don’t realize you’re sharing a ton of information–and it was very incremental. We had the Likes–and then all of a sudden the app was available on my phone, and that seemed really con­venient. It wasn’t explicit that all of this information, all of your actions on your phone, was going to Facebook, and that you were opening up your friends’ data. There were so many changes and new privacy policies that after a while people gave up tracking them–and Facebook didn’t wave it in your face. It’s not like the company said, “Hey, we’re taking all your data, and we’re doing all this stuff.”

Your trial, followed by Susan Fowler’s account of widespread harassment at Uber, helped lay the groundwork for the #MeToo reckoning about sexism, harassment, and sexual abuse throughout the business world. Is it worse in tech than in other industries?
In tech, there is such a concentration of power in a small set of venture capitalists and a small set of CEOs that people aren’t sharing all their stories–the #MeToo stories, the discrimination stories, and the retaliation stories.

Some of the stories I’ve heard behind the scenes are much worse than stories that have been shared publicly. People still want to be able to find jobs, and they want to be able to raise funding for their companies. It’s a rational decision not to share your story. And I don’t think we can really understand what’s happened in each of these industries without having heard all of those stories.

Do you feel you’ve been penalized for telling your story and for suing Kleiner Perkins?
There are people who won’t talk to me. There are people who believe the negative press campaign. A woman who runs a fund recently reached out to me, and she said, “I am sorry, because I really thought you were crazy when you sued. I see now why you did it and why it makes sense. I had pushed down all of my feelings and my experiences. I apologize, and I thank you for what you’ve done.”

But this is six years after I sued, and she’s finally saying something about it.

There are still a lot of people who believe that I was wrong to sue. It’s been such an uphill battle for so long. I don’t know if I’ve come out the other side yet, where I can say it’s been a positive. But it’s been very rewarding to see so many other people speaking up, and to see that shift from doubt and skepticism into empathy and belief. That’s happened in the past couple of years, and it’s been such a relief. 

I don’t think of it as about me personally. It’s more that the industry needs to change, and we’re making progress, and that’s a good thing.

How much progress have you seen for women in Silicon Valley?
Things are incrementally better. You can actually talk about an experience that you’ve had and not be met with skepticism or told that you’re crazy. People who have reported problems have gotten attention in a way that was not as negative as the attention I got.

Now there is a feeling that we need to change. The mindset at first was, “We don’t believe there’s a problem.” Then people admitted there was a problem, but it wasn’t their problem. Then they understood that they needed to make changes, but said they couldn’t because it was a pipeline problem. And now we’re at a point where people admit we need to change, and that they have some responsibility to do it. We’re just now starting to see companies say, “I want to change and I want to be revolutionary.”

This is going to be a critical year, because now people are willing to do some work. This is the best chance we have. We can see the move toward true inclusion–meaning not just women, which a lot of efforts are only focused on today.

The important part of this next wave of change is to try to keep people working together. It’s very easy to have people fracture and say, “There’s only one spot allowed for diversity, so we’re all going to fight for it.” But we need to be more supportive of one another. We need to understand that if we all work on inclusion together, it’s going to be faster, broader, better, and more thorough than anything we can do on our own.


Companies often cite the “pipeline problem,” the argument that there aren’t enough women or people of color with the degrees necessary to succeed in tech. Is that a real problem or an excuse?

There is a pipeline problem, but a lot of it is self-manufactured. Companies use the same recruiting firms. They have a process where it’s easier for a certain type of person to get through, so then the recruiters bring in that type of person, and build a huge pool of only them.

There are fewer women with computer science degrees, but that’s also an excuse. You don’t necessarily need a computer science degree. A lot of people are self-trained, and a lot of people who are successful in tech aren’t engineers. But it’s not only engineering that has a dearth of women. It’s across the whole tech industry, so it’s a much bigger problem.

I’ve heard people say #MeToo hasn’t helped women, it has just made men scared of hiring women.
Of course it helped. People said the same thing about my lawsuit–that VCs would never hire another woman, that it was going to prevent people from meeting with women, and that it was going to destroy any kind of gender progress that had already been made. That’s just sensationalistic–and also a little bit pissy, for lack of a better word. It’s like, “We don’t like this change, so we’re going to dig in our heels.”

Plenty of longstanding research shows that diverse teams perform better. So why do we still see so many all-white, all-male partnerships?
Some of these companies are so data-driven, so metrics-oriented–yet once the data is staring them in the face, their emotions override it, and they think they don’t need to change. I think there’s a comfort zone, and there’s a fear of women in the workplace. Sometimes they’ll say, “Our culture is so inappropriate that we can’t bring a woman into this environment.”

So how do you change an entrenched culture, like Uber’s?
It is so hard. You have to be vigilant about every interaction. You have to make sure if there are violations of values that you’re on it. Uber’s culture is in its DNA now, and I haven’t seen all the courage required to do the tough changes. The company is going to have to fire more than 20 people. It’s going to have to really dig in and spend time on it. The change agent needs to be the CEO.

There are some signs that Uber is not quite there. I don’t understand why it doesn’t have the diversity and inclusion lead reporting directly to the CEO. Chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John’s leaving is not a good sign–especially when Uber is putting $500 million into branding. That’s not good.

What do you tell the well-meaning CEO who hasn’t thought about inclusion or diversity a lot but wants to be one of the good guys?
There are a lot of very basic things: Make inclusion either an explicit value or part of all your other values. Make sure you step back and look at all of your processes: How are you recruiting people? How are you building your pipeline?

Are you rewarding people for bringing in their friends, who probably look like them? Are you getting a look at as many candidates as possible, or are you looking only at candidates who are on your homogeneous radar? Are you then going through a fair process to bring candidates on board? Or are you using trick questions that people with friends in the company will be able to answer, because they get a heads-up?

If your leadership team is not diverse and inclusive, then clearly this is not a priority for you. It also means that you have a limited circle. It may be because of your recruiter or it may be because of your board. But if your executive team doesn’t have much diversity, that’s going to be a problem, because the company won’t be able to attract people. And if you do, you’re not going to get them to stay, because they won’t see anybody who looks like them in the top ranks.

The early results from the first group of companies to work with Project Include show some progress in creating gender diversity but not racial or ethnic diversity. What can we learn from that?
Diversifying by race can be harder than diversifying by gender, from an emotional perspective. A lot of men will say, “I want to bring women in, because I want my daughter to have a chance.” It’s very oriented toward the people they have a direct connection with. When it comes to somebody from a different race or ethnicity, they may not have that connection.

And companies are still doing one thing at a time: They focus on gender first, and then the next group. Or they’re going to attack it one phase at a time because it’s so hard. That is not inclusion. That means you may be widening the group of people included, but you’re still excluding all these other people and your processes are still not fair. And the people whom you are theoretically including are probably still treated differently, because your culture is based around exclusion. That’s the piece people sometimes don’t get, because they don’t want to. There are specific problems for specific groups, but the focus and end goal is change, of the whole industry, for everybody.

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

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: Robotics Barbie joins the corporate call for diversity

Robotics Barbie is also part of a Mattel Inc. initiative to promote new jobs for girls, in line with a public pledge the company made earlier this year.

 

By Jeff Green of Bloomberg

Robotics Barbie is a lab-coat-and-glasses-wearing robotics engineer, a far cry from the 1992 “math class is tough” version. Appropriately, she’s also part of a Mattel Inc. initiative to promote new jobs for girls, in line with a public pledge the company made earlier this year.

In February, Mattel senior vice-president Lisa McKnight joined 40 executives onstage at the Makers women’s diversity conference to make a range of commitments towards improving women’s professional lives.

McKnight promised 10 such dolls this year; advertising group UM said it would double the number of women of colour at every level of its organization; LinkedIn said it will add job coaching for returning moms.

These kinds of pledges have in recent years become a kind of progressive calling card for companies looking to keep and attract young talent. There’s a promise for every interest group, with a wide range of commitment and accountability.

Some 300 CEOs have signed on to the CEO Action coalition, which seeks to share successful diversity initiatives. Many members of that group are also part of Paradigm for Parity and Parity.org, which have similar missions to increase all forms of workplace diversity.

The Thirty Percent Coalition, 3% Movement, and 2020 Women on Boards ask signees for a commitment to specific levels of female representation. Others focus singly on LGBT rights, or ethnicity, veterans or the disabled or in a specific field such as the Tech Inclusion Pledge.

“There are strong social norms right now around committing to these kinds of goals,” said Dolly Chugh, an associate professor of management and organization at the NYU Stern School of Business.

She has studied how public pressure changes diversity behaviour. “If you’re among the minority of CEOs who isn’t signing the pledge or promise, you’re violating a norm and norm violations make people very uncomfortable.”

By most measures, two decades of increased efforts to improve diversity have slowed or stalled. Parity for women in boardrooms is still at least three decades away. Women and people of colour are dramatically underrepresented in top management. At the CEO level, white men still occupy 95% of the seats.

In some specific areas, though, public commitments have prompted change. Formed in 2011, the 3% Movement was named after the ratio of women creative directors in the advertising world to men (they now make up 29%).

The more the merrier, says Shannon Schuyler, who heads corporate responsibility at PwC. The professional services company started CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion a year ago. Almost 90% of the organizations either have or are planning to add unconscious bias training. “This is about the CEO saying that they will put themselves out there, to really be able to make the change happen,” Schuyler said.

Robotics Engineer Barbie, which comes with a humanoid robot and laptop, will partner with the Tynker game platform and Black Girls CODE to encourage girls to embrace computer science, according to Mattel. The company says it has introduced 17 dolls focused on careers and female role models, more than the 10 promised.

Among the other companies on the Makers stage with specific goals was Adobe Systems Inc., which promises gender pay parity at all locations by the end of this year, and is at least 80% there already, said Donna Morris, executive vice-president of the customer and employee experience at the maker of Photoshop.

AT&T Inc. and L’Oreal SA promised to improve their representation of women in advertisements, as measured by progress on the scorecard generated by #SeeHer, an organization that has its own pledge to improve the portrayal of women by 20%, as measured by viewers, by 2020.

“People really, really, really value keeping a promise,” said Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied how people react to promises honoured and broken.

“It’s really about the value of trustworthiness and reliability,” Gneezy said. “So there’s also a risk to not keeping the promise. I don’t really care what they tried to do, I care what they did.”

How do you feel about the new line of STEM Barbie dolls? Sound off 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.

WIT: Atlanta’s Women Cybersecurity Leaders Stoke Interest in Tech with Girl Scouts

 

By Madison Hogan of americaninno.com

Several of the leading women in cybersecurity in Atlanta know all too well what its like to be the only woman in a room.

Enter the Atlanta Women in Cybersecurity Roundtable. It’s an initiative founded by women chief privacy officers, chief information security officers, general councils and other executives who want to share their experiences, collaborate on industry initiatives and inspire young women to enter the field.

Bess Hinson, a senior associate at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP and chair of the firm’s cybersecurity and privacy practice, said she started her search for other women in cybersecurity about a year ago, surfing LinkedIn and other sources to find peers.

“It’s so nice to be in a room with women and I think that when you work in a profession where everything is new and rapidly evolving and changing and you’re the only woman in the room, it can feel isolating and it can feel challenging,” she said.

When Hinson first organized the roundtable, she was working with a list of 12 women leaders in the city; today, about a year since its inception, the organization has 45 active members. Some of the members include female leadership in cybersecurity at The Home Depot, AT&T, Equifax, SunTrust and Gwinnett Medical Center, she said.

“We now have 32 organizations and companies represented on the roundtable,” she said. “The idea was to bring together these women, because studies show that in the United States of America, only 1 in 10 cybersecurity professionals are women.”

Though one of the fastest growing sectors in tech with the rise of data-breaches and hacking, women are far too often a minority in the field, Hinson said. The purpose of roundtable is to get these women together to share their experiences when all too often, there’s not another female leader in the office, and the role of a cybersecurity leader is often to relay bad or challenging news to leadership.

“We share our challenges and we compare notes on how we are assisting our companies and leadership to understand the security risks which exist and also to support each other and communicate these risks to leadership,” she said. “Women with great power within their organization and incredible responsibility are communicating new, scary, cutting edge risks related to technology and big data to the C-suite—that I would venture to say in most cases is still majority male and a more senior generation that may have less familiarity with the technologies that are being implemented and used to help these businesses thrive.”

But the scope of the roundtable goes beyond sharing tips for how to prepare a CEO on a data-breach or how to lead, Hinson said. The women also hope their work will lead by example for young women and girls who wish to pursue STEM fields and see that cybersecurity is a career path for them, she said.

“IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, THAT A CYBERSECURITY PROFESSIONAL LOOKS LIKE YOU, YOU AREN’T GOING TO ENVISION YOURSELF IN THAT ROLE. WE NEED EXAMPLES.”

 

“I think it continues to be an uphill battle,” she said. “I’ve had several conversations with professors at Kennesaw State who teach related curricula, and they have very few women who go on to complete the degree in cybersecurity and they are pushing hard to support these women who have an interest. I think that, unfortunately some stereotypes remain within academia regarding whether girls or young women could be good at science or engineering, I think some of our institutions do a great job supporting young women—Georgia Tech does a great job of bringing women in that pipeline. But not everyone does.”

Recently, the roundtable has partnered with the Girl Scouts of Atlanta to educate troop leaders on cybersecurity who will teach their troops on the subject for the opportunity to earn a newly debuted cybersecurity badge. Hinson said troop leaders may not understand all the technicalities and nuances with cybersecurity, which is where leaders from the roundtable come in.

“I think it’s going to be very helpful for members to serve as if they were teachers to the troop leaders to help give them some insight and also some examples of how this applies to the real world,” she said. “And I think it’ll give the troop leaders more tools and basics of cybersecurity of the curriculum as they’re teaching it.”

Role models are essential for young girls, Hinson said, and even more so in the cybersecurity industry because of the statistic stating women’s presence in the sector is few and far between.

“If you don’t know what it looks like, that a cybersecurity professional looks like you, you aren’t going to envision yourself in that role,” she said. “We need examples.”

WIT: Hidden Figures, Unsung: One Woman’s Fight To Be An IBM Programmer In The 70s

 

 

 

By Everett Harper of Forbes.com

In 1975, a 34 year old black woman with a high school education, and three tween kids, sat with dread before her final exam. She had risked her job as a secretary at IBM, and her marriage to take the Introduction to Programming course — and it wasn’t going well. Before the final exam commenced, her instructor walked up to her and said, “Jackie, you seem like a lovely lady. Go home and take care of your kids. You are dismissed.” Jackie left class, sped down Harrigan Road in her brown Pontiac Catalina station wagon, to pick up her three sweaty kids from daycare before she got hit with a late fee. As the kids fought over the radio (“not Edmund Fitzgerald AGAIN”) she wondered if she would have a job the next day.

IBM, the forgotten diversity pioneer in technology

IBM was one of the most powerful companies in the world in the mid sixties through the seventies. The S/360 mainframe revolutionized computing, giving processing power previously available only to government and universities, and made it accessible to business. By 1971, the $8.3B company offered the full slate of free or nearly free benefits to its 270,000 person workforce — healthcare, scholarships, and nearly every engineering class under the sun. They hired women for managerial roles twice as fast as their employment growth, and as result 15% of their workforce were women in 1970. To give that context, the number of women at Facebook grew 4% from 2014 to 2017 while their employee base grew 43% [CNBC] Thomas Watson Jr., CEO of IBM, personally committed to inviting and recruiting African-Americans to “white-collar” jobs in the mid-sixties, and one of them, Mark Dean, designed the first PC.

Jackie’s husband Jim was one of those recruits. He trained first in the US Navy, running a radio transmitter and electronics shop on the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Independence. IBM recruited him to be a systems engineer in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1963. Jackie came with him, and soon had three kids in three years. She decided to go back to work in 1972 as a secretary for the old Selectrix typewriter division in East Fishkill, NY. Jackie was highly disciplined — be on time, prepare, focus, get things done. But she also noticed how much of the world was being run by men carrying boxes of punch cards and magnetic tape. She realized that she was sitting in the middle of the revolution. So she decided, no more typewriters — I want to be a programmer.

Despite the progressive environment, this was a bold statement in 1975. She was a black woman with a high school education from Westinghouse High School in the poor neighborhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh, PA. She had no extended family in small-town Hudson Valley, which still had KKK meeting announcements on AM radio alongside the VFW and PTA. But, “we understood that coming from a hard family life that we could do more. We knew that the money and the means was not there. But once we got to a place where education would be number one, then my kids could go far.” However, Jackie also knew when to take her opportunity — and that was Intro to Programming at IBM.

So you think you want to be a Programmer, Ms. Jackie?

 

For nine weeks, weekdays from 8am to 5pm, she took the class that had a reputation of being designed to “make or break” students. They started with Assembler and, “it was like a foreign language to me. Flowcharting seemed quite simple, yet putting that in code — programming language — was very difficult for me.” The class was diverse — 30% were women. While this might seem surprising, the number of women with computer science degrees was rising until the early 1980s.

Her classmates were recent college grads, having taken the higher math classes that Jackie lacked. There was one final drag on her ability to learn. “Even though my husband was a programmer, he was not supportive of me learning this skill.” As a result, when other students stayed after class to get help from instructors, or stay all night to finish assignments, Jackie had to pick up kids, shop for groceries, and make dinner. She fell way behind, failed her interim exams, and as the final exam approached, she was seriously demoralized.

“Most people who fail,” Jackie said, “go home and stay home.” Not her.

When she arrived at the IBM East Fishkill building, Edward Holden, her manager and sponsor, called her into his office. They talked about what she’d gone through in the course. At the end of the meeting he said, “Jackie, you have a job. Take the next few weeks, review programming, study what you need, and retake the exam.” With Holden’s encouragement and clearing her schedule, she found programming courses in PLS, PLI and APL at Duchess Community College, Marist College and took them all. “I was able to regroup, it wasn’t so foreign, and I knew what I was looking for and that helped.” This time she was ready.

Jackie Harper had a 25 year career as a programmer and then software coder at IBM. Her husband still wasn’t supportive, but she didn’t encounter resistance within IBM. “In fact, the guys seemed excited when a woman came in. They were happy when a woman made manager.” She worked floor control manufacturing systems, engineering design systems and eventually global services. She learned many of the assembly languages at IBM, then eventually db2 and early versions of SQL. The diligence to simply debug a program is astonishing to anyone who is working in modern software. When she came to the Truss office her stories raised a lot of eyebrows among our engineers about the things we now get to take for granted.

Leadership: creating space for others to do their best work

 

Since I first heard this story in 2012, I’ve wondered what made Ed Holden, a white male middle manager, stick his neck out for his black female secretary. As I researched this story, it is clear that the IBM ethos was a significant influence. This was a company that sponsored IBMers to go back to get a Ph.D without requiring them to return. Jackie recalled, “If you proved you were a worker, and could adapt to IBM’s unwritten rules: ‘don’t swear, don’t talk politics, don’t call names’, you could find a place at IBM.” (I added another unwritten rule: “suit, tie and hose”, and we laughed). Holden’s sponsorship was more than a gesture — it was an action, backed by institutional commitment, that demonstrated his belief that Jackie would rise to the occasion.

Jackie created space too, for herself and her kids. In the seventies, sending your black children to college was not a given, especially if neither parent had a college degree. Jackie’s particular genius was shifting the family framework to “where are you going to college”, instead of “will you go to college”. I never recall a day when college was an “if”, and that change in mental model has incalculable value in being an entrepreneur or leader. To me, one of the reasons STEM and inclusion programs are crucial is because they change “if I can” into “when I do” . I was raised in a legacy of leaders who remove obstacles and create space for others to excel — from Thomas Watson Jr. leading IBM, Ed Holden leading his team, and Jackie Harper leading her family. Now that’s part of my core purpose and how I lead my company at Truss.

My hope in writing this story is to invite women to tell their stories — of insight, ambition, perseverance and achievement — out loud! As Tiffani Bell, CEO of Human Utility, wrote on Twitter

Ultimately, this is the story of discovering that your mother is a badass. Lucky me. Happy Mother’s Day, Jacqueline Harper — programmer, coder, engineer.

Weekly Round Up 4/13/18

 

 

Acting like an entitled douche bag didn’t help F*ckerberg’s case when he appeared in front of Congress this week, either.
Facebook is the least-trusted tech company by a country mile

This is some scary sh*t people…
I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.

Facebook is the front runner right now, but time will tell.
Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft: Which Tech Giant Will Fall First?

Touche’
Here’s why tech companies abuse our data: because we let them

Maybe if they add more female leadership? Just a thought…
How to fix the big tech backlash? Build companies with purpose

Oracle gets it.
Tech Moves: Jenny Lam joins Oracle as design SVP; Starbucks engineering VP joins DefinedCrowd; and more

Here’s an idea…how about we celebrate these companies when they eliminate the pay gap altogether?
12 tech companies with the smallest pay gaps

I swear to God, if there is a way to milk money out of a fence post, these guys would probably do it.
Big tech companies think they can make a lot of money from the world’s unbanked

WIT: By The Numbers: What Pay Inequality Looks Like For Women In Tech

 

 

By Tanya Tarr of Forbes

Women in technology have a curious history. While women helped create the field of computer technology, their current representation within the industry is dwindling. In fact, a woman executive named Ruth Amonette was IBM’s first woman vice president in 1943. Margaret Hamilton coined the phrase “software engineering,” and led the team that made sure Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. Yet as the industry has aged, fewer women are entering or advancing in tech. A commonly cited statistic is that women make up only about 24% of computer-related tech workers, with evidence that this number could be declining.

Despite this history, a study released today by Hired, Inc. shows that though incremental, women’s representation among tech job candidates is growing. Hired is a job-searching platform that matches tech talent with tech companies, and its report The State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace shows both the encouraging and depressing sides of being a woman job-seeker in the technology industry. The report highlights differences in actual pay between women and men in the industry as well as gaps in pay expectations. It also details pay gap by city, job title, race and sexual orientation, tapping the data of 420,000 interview requests and individual survey responses from more than 1,200 candidates. Gender in the report was self-identified, and non-gender-conforming participants were not included. Hired hopes that by making the data around self-identified gender more transparent, this clear-eyed view of the data could help move the industry a little faster towards gender parity.

Though the statistics still favor male job applicants, Hired found that in the last year, women’s representation in the candidate pool has increased by 7% overall. Yet when gender is controlled for, women are still underrepresented candidates 16% of the time. While women candidates are increasing in number, this doesn’t make up for the fact that men make up significantly more than half of the applicant pool:

Another stunning but perhaps unsurprising finding was that 63% of the time, men were offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company. The report found that companies were offering women between 4% and a whopping 45% less starting pay for the same job. Women in tech also tended to undervalue their market worth, asking for less pay 66% of the time, and would often ask for 6% less salary than their male counterparts.

At the same time, women tech workers know they are being underpaid, regardless of whether or not they underbid themselves. When women applicants were asked about whether they knew if they were being paid less than their male colleagues for the same job, 54% reported that they knew they were. This is in sharp contrast to the 19% of men who had experienced the same dynamic.

While nearly three-fourths of women surveyed believe that gender can impact pay, a majority of men (53%) also agree that gender identity can impact pay. The interesting point here is the majority agreement on how gender shapes earning potential.

 

What’s even more interesting is that having a pay gap is considered an unattractive quality by both genders. A very strong majority of women (84%) said that negative attention around having a pay gap would also negatively impact their opinion of that company, with 50% of men agreeing as well. This finding suggests that if a company wants to attract key talent, taking steps to eliminate pay gaps within their company would be a clear recruitment tool for all genders.

 

This point isn’t lost on Matt Rigdon. Rigdon is the Director of Recruiting and Human Resources at Searchmetrics, Inc. Searchmetrics, like many other forward-thinking companies in the United States, decided to voluntarily get certified as an equal pay company because they wanted to send a clear signal on how their company felt about equal pay. Rather than run an audit internally, they chose SameWorks to be a third-party auditor.

For Rigdon and Searchmetrics, getting certified was simply the right thing to do. “Really, it’s about our organization doing what’s right and fair. Getting certified is a way to learn exactly what is going on with wages, as well as find out what we have to do to correct any pay differences.” Rigdon mentioned that being an equal pay company was a way to push back against the male-dominated dynamic in Silicon Valley and attract the talent that will help their organization be successful. “If we treat our employees equitably, it’s our hope that they will stick around longer and be better performers. That’s going to drive recruitment, make better technology and ultimately, profit. But even if it doesn’t, it’s still the right thing to do,” he said. In fact, a growing majority agree with Rigdon. Hired found that 66% of all respondents feel that the US should adopt laws like the one recently passed by Iceland, requiring companies prove that they pay fair wages.

 

San Francisco and Boston are better for women in tech than other major cities. San Francisco has the lowest gap, at 8% and Seattle, at 11%, has the highest. Hired also found that New York and Los Angeles have a 10% pay gap.

 

Of the cities examined, Boston is the only city where women in tech are overrepresented at 5%, which suggests to them that recruitment efforts have been successful. Other cities like San Francisco (-14%), New York (-17%), Seattle (-25%) and Los Angeles (-29%) all have a significant lack of representation in terms of women job applicants.

When it comes to job title, project managers have the smallest gap at 4% or half the size of the gap for software engineering, data science and design, which have an 8% earning gap.

The gender wage gap also increases with age. When women start in their careers, between the ages 20-25, they make $0.97 for every dollar men in similar roles earn. The gap widens by the time workers are in their forties, increasing to $0.90 on the dollar. Women in their mid-thirties, or around 10 or more years in the industry, have a different gap. Women in this age group often ask for 2% less than their male counterparts but are often paid 7% lower.

 

Hired found that Hispanic and Black women are paid the least. White and Asian men earn the most money, and White women earn 96 cents on the dollar compared to White men. White women also outpace the earning of Black and Hispanic men, who earn 94 cents on the dollar. 

 

The sexual orientation of a tech worker also influences their salary. “When we dug into other factors such as race, LGBTQ+ status, and age, we found that they all impact a candidate’s salary expectations and ultimately the salaries they’re offered,” said Kelli Dragovich, SVP of People at Hired. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. “Many times the intersection of these identities compounds to widen the gap and a closer look can uncover new insights,” Dragovich said. She noted that the report found that identifying as LGBTQ+ negatively affects salaries for men, but women who identify as LGBTQ+ actually make more money than other females.

When it comes to effectively combatting bias and closing earning gaps, study after study shows that transparency wins the day. “We want to arm tech workers and companies with data. This report gives job candidates the information they need to ask for what they’re worth and prompts companies to define their own compensation philosophy and hiring best practices,” said Mehul Patel, CEO at Hired. As companies make changes, individuals can take action as well. Negotiating a job offer can affect earning potential. Dragovich offered negotiation tips for women in tech who might be negotiating salary at their next job. These takeaways include:

Rely on the data: Use existing data, such as Hired’s State of Salaries report to determine what workers in your market with the same experience and skill set are earning is a good place to start. Other resources to leverage are salary calculators or resources like Payscale, that can help you determine exactly what your skill set is worth in the market.
Aim high: After you look at the data, ask for the high side of your expected salary range. Many employers will meet you halfway, so if you start on the low side you may end up disappointed.
Never use your current salary as a starting point: Using past earnings to inform salary decisions only perpetuates the wage gap. In some states and cities, it’s actually illegal to ask for this information. Focus on the salary of the job you’re interviewing for.
Avoid coworker comparisons: You’ll be more successful if you rely on objective salary data to support your argument verse comparing yourself to colleagues. Again, focus on the job title and description.
Ask about the compensation philosophy: If you’re unhappy with what a company is offering, ask how the company arrived at the proposed salary and the benchmarks that are being considered for your level and skill sets.

 

How do you feel about this Gender Gap data? Sound off in the comments below!

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