Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Women in Tech Faced Total BS in 2015, 6 Times


As most of us look forward to 2016 with optimism, looking back at 2015 we must note that it wasn’t a great year for women in tech. (Is it ever?)  Sexism, harassment and outright exclusion continued apace.  Here were the year’s six worst moments for women in tech.

Ellen Pao’s annus horribilis (horrible year) – In March, Ellen Pao lost a gender discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.  Although Pao lost the suit, her case revealed an astonishing amount of sexism at the company.  Pao refused to settle with Kleiner Perkins so that she could continue to “speak the truth” about her experiences.  The ordeal taught us that while sexism still runs rampant in Silicon Valley, proving it in a court of law is all but impossible.

Pao’s troubles didn’t end there.  After leaving Kleiner Perkins, she became interm CEO of the online forum Reddit.  It didn’t last long.  Pao abruptly fired a well-liked staffer and soon faced a firestorm of criticism on the site.  Shortly thereafter, she resigned from the post.

Apple forces women to smile – During a huge Apple press event in September, a man took a promotional iPad showing a woman’s face and – in an attempt to demonstrate the new device’s photo-editing features – forced her mouth into a smile.  Women the world over, who know “You should smile more!” to be the oldest and most annoying catcall in the book, reacted to the demonstration with a little anger and more than a few eye-rolls.

Online abuse continued, and in some instances got worse – A researcher from the UK wrote in The Guardian in October that she found, “one in five female journalists covering technology has disguised her gender to avoid sexist abuse, and nearly 40% have changed working practices for fear of being targeted.”  Of the 100 women surveyed, one-third reported that the abuse is getting worse.  And that leads us to…

The SXSW Gamergate controversy – At the end of October, the South by Southwest conference created an uproar by cancelling two panels slated for the March 2016 conference. 1) to address online harassment 2) to be in support of the online mob Gamergate.  After a period of outrage SXSW created a single daylong online harassment summit that would include members of both of the canceled panels.

Prompting a second cycle of outrage in which prominent anti-online harassment advocate Randi Lee Harper threatened not to come, tweeting “While we support Gamergate being a part of SXSW Gaming, having them as part of the online harassment summit is a safety concern.”

Several weeks later, SXSW moved the panel on gaming and journalism back to its original time and confirmed that the original speakers from the anti-harassment panel would be at the summit.

The Game Awards are judged by 31 men and a single woman – The celebration of the best of the year’s video games was judged by a panel that was 97% male.  A survey published by the Pew Research Center showed that 48% of all American women play video games but that most don’t want to call themselves “gamers.”  That’s about all that needs to be said here.

Twitter hired a white man to head up its diversity hiring program – It was not a good year for diversity in Silicon Valley.  Twitter, perhaps unfairly, go singled out.  The company’s top black engineer, Leslie Miley, wrote critically of the company after being laid off in November.  “With my departure, Twitter no longer has any managers, directors, or VP’s of color in engineering or product management,” he wrote in a post on Medium.  The company also pledged to increase the number of women and minorities in tech, engineering, and leadership positions in 2016 – though not by a whole lot.

To top it all off, Twitter announced this week that its new vice president for diversity and inclusion is Jeffery Siminoff, a former Apple executive who happens to be white and male.  Obviously, this doesn’t help the company’s diversity numbers, nor is it particularly good from and optics standpoint.

Read Article (Shane Ferro | | 12/31/2015)

The heated comments on this article are also a good read.  Meanwhile, technology is advancing at an exponential rate, inevitably the day will come when even millennials will be unfamiliar with the latest technology.

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Huge Tech Growth Has Created Digital Inequality


The huge growth in technology has created digital inequality. We live in an age of amazing tech, but not everyone knows how to use it to their advantage.  The trends are clear: In 2017, we’re going to be more connected on more devices creating more data than ever in human history.  But what does it mean for us? And what does it mean for the economy? According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, some people and companies are benefiting enormously from the digitization of America. And some people… are being left behind.

Sree Ramaswamy, a senior fellow at McKinsey’s research arm said, “What those at the forefront have, from companies to consumers, is a much better grasp of what’s available or what can be done. There are some institutions, industries, consumers and workers that are doing a lot better. They are seeing disproportionate gains –and we see a gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have-mores,’ which runs counter to a narrative of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nones.’”

The challenge with this sort of research is there’s no single, standard definition of what it means to be “digitized.” Ramaswamy said, “Some of it’s about having a smartphone or broadband connection or a computer, but it’s much more than just owning an asset. We’ve got smartphones. But how many people know how to effectively use them? Or how to maximize the ability to get discounts on different kinds of things?”

That’s where this all comes back to people. McKinsey’s research confirms that the digital gap at the individual level is tied to not only income and education but also a knowledge and ability to effectively use the Internet and devices that connect to it. While the vast majority of the country now has some kind of access to the Internet, 15% of U.S. citizens still don’t use the Internet at all, which means that millions of people are being left behind.

“It’s not just about whether I have a broadband connection or smartphone, but the different ways I can use these new tools,” said Ranaswamy. “You can call it digital awareness or digital literacy.” As the on-demand economy expands into more industries, these kinds of digital skills will be crucial for people hoping to find new opportunities as more and more workers are displaced through efficiency and automation.

This is a challenge that’s going to face the next president in January 2017, as software starts eating into white-collar jobs in the 21st century the way advanced manufacturing affected blue-collar jobs last century. McKinsey’s conservative projection of jobs displaced by automation in the U.S. economy over the next decade is 10 million workers.

Read Article (Alexander Howard | | 12/17/2015)

This is reality, a reality of providing for individual and family wellbeing. Digital literacy has entered a crisis stage but many choose to down-play its impact on society. This outstanding article speaks to the basis of our campaign and whether they realize it or not, millions ask you to support it.

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