By Deanna Kosaraju
Global Tech Women
You have heard it. The latest perk for women in tech: Apple and Facebook will pay for female employees to freeze and store their eggs allowing them to delay starting families while increasing the odds these women will have a successful pregnancy...in the future, putting any concerns of delaying motherhood to rest.
While many applaud this new perk, others are asking, “is the company dabbling into women’s reproduction and/or telling women “not now””?
Perhaps the media are becoming too cynical to question the intentions of these organizations?
One comment I heard on NPR caused me to rethink the question, “if they are so concerned about women and their families (present and future), why don’t they offer onsite subsidized/paid childcare”? After all, extracting and freezing eggs can run up to $20,000 USD, take four to six weeks, and $500 a year for store them. Good question!
Let’s look at what Apple and Facebook, the employers of this new perk, do for childcare here in the United States:
Facebook has been in the news during the construction of a $120 million dollar 394-unit apartment complex, which will include:
On-site “grab & go” convenience store
On-site café (Facebook already provides employees with three free meals a day).
On-site sports pub
Bicycle repair shop with on-site storage (Facebook has a free bike shop on campus)
Pet spa with doggy day care, pet walking services, outdoor dog park and run
Concierge services – dry cleaning and package drop off (Facebook already does its employees laundry/dry cleaning for free)
Indoor/outdoor wellness, yoga and training facility with personal training (the Facebook campus has a fitness center)
Resort-inspired pool, spa and cabana area (Ok, no denying it. That sounds nice.)
iCafe – new generation community business facility
Clubhouse with full kitchen and cooking area including outdoor facilities
Large rooftop entertainment deck with three-themed areas (yeah, that's nice, too.)
Guess what is doesn’t have? A childcare facility. Nor do they have childcare anywhere else on their sprawling Menlo Park Campus.
To be fair, Facebook does offer a childcare credit. But honestly, most employers do offer pre-tax childcare credit and flexible spending accounts, which is just about standard for every multi-national company. Facebook also provides four months of paid paternity and maternity — same-sex couples included — and $4,000 in “baby cash,” a Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times.
Anyone who has gone through the difficult process of finding reliable and affordable childcare (think waiting lists) in the San Francisco Bay Area knows how difficult and problematic this can be.
Looking at Facebook’s top mom, Sheryl Sandberg, we know she has hired nannies and has discussed them often in her interviews. Perhaps that is what she expects her employees to do. Anyways, children clearly do not fit into the Facebook apartment complex culture. I guess if you want children now, you will have to Lean In and find it yourself.
Apple announced a new maternity-leave policy for expectant mothers, who now have four weeks paid leave prior to giving birth, and up to 14 weeks (three-and-a-half months) of paid leave after the baby arrives. Meanwhile, fathers at the company can take up to six weeks leave.
Again, no onsite or subsidized childcare.
But, they now offer: Apple’s “wellness center,” a medical one-stop-shop located in a striking new building at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters, which opened about a year ago and employs seven doctors plus a large team of chiropractors, physical therapists and dieticians.
Maternity policies at Facebook and Apple don't come close to minimum requirements in Europe and other parts of the world.
Clearly, the message is: we want young women, before they have children. Childless talent fits our culture. Women with children, you are on your own. Given the need to retain a diverse culture inclusive of the people who actually use your products (ie Apple Health does not track periods), you may want to re-think this Facebook and Apple. Hiring women and then retaining them will resolve a large part of your pipeline concerns.
Putting onsite childcare on campus leads to higher retention, happier employees, loyalty and let’s face it, it’s the right thing to do. The media will really have something positive to say then, and so will women in tech everywhere.
They Will Pay to Freeze Your Eggs, But They Don’t Have Onsite Childcare. What Message is THIS Sending to Women in Tech?
By Deanna Kosaraju
Global Tech Women
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!
To celebrate the past, and honor Ada Lovelace, Global Tech Women will dedicate this post to the future of women in technology. What can we do to create a culture of technology that is exciting, inclusive, and puts the tools in the hands of people who can change their communities and impact the world?
We think Ada herself would agree. It's time for something new.
We will be talking about all of these ideas, featuring companies and people who exemplify the future of tech, and bringing the global community together at the upcoming Voices Conference the week of March 8th 2015. We hope you will add your voice to the global conversation! The deadline to submit an idea in November 17th.
By Deanna Kosaraju, Global Tech Women
We all watched in horror as a casual exchange between Microsoft Board Member, Maria Klawe and newly minted CEO Satya Nadella took a nasty turn. As someone who ran the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing from 2006 to 2011 and the conference founder for Grace Hopper India, this was a nightmare I never experienced, but I have seen this situation before. Satya Nadella was right...until he wasn't. Nadella, like many male tech CEOs believes that tech is in fact a meritocracy and if you just "work hard enough", you will be rewarded (i.e. Karma). Many of us women in tech used to believe that too -- until it wasn't. Many of us (me included) learned through a very painful process what the culture of tech really means if you are a woman.
At this very same conference, in 2007, a group of male executives were sitting behind closed doors in a private session run by a very savvy facilitator. She asked "Who in this room believes their company is a meritocracy?". All the hands went up. For the next several hours the concepts of unconscious and corporate bias were explained, the data was revealed -- about half of all women in tech leaving before they reach mid-level. One CTO stood up at the end and said, "My assumptions were wrong. I am going to do something about this." An advocate was born. He is still an outspoken proponent of women in technology working tirelessly to change the culture of tech.
Back to Nadella. He didn't have this "consciousness raising" moment. He didn't have the facilitator nor the support of his peers in a space where realization is powerful. He found this out yesterday, on stage, in front of 8000 women in tech and the broader global Community online. It was a painful moment to watch and a situation that took a potential advocate and shook him to his core. He was right...until he wasn't.
He was not alone at the Conference. The Male Allies panel faired hardly better where accusations of placing mens voices in a plenary at the expense of women hit Twitter. The CEO of GoDaddy who again, like Nadella, is put on stage without the badly needed process of listening and understanding BEFORE speaking, especially given GoDaddy's track record.
Advocates in positions of power, like Nadella, can help change the culture of tech. This Conference is a huge opportunity for advocates to listen to what women need and to work on the culture of technology globally TOGETHER to make it a reality.
You are invited to be part of these important conversations at our upcoming Voices Conference in March. I hope you will take part in discussing how all of us together can be the change necessary to make technology an innovative, exciting and inclusive culture no matter where you are in the world.
By guest blogger Jackie Farrow
The numbers of women making it to the top in technology industries make rather depressing reading. While (given the traditionally male-dominated nature of jobs like programming, game development and hardware design) statistics are improving, just four Fortune 100 technology companies are run by female CEO's. That's a slightly worse percentage than the pretty dire stats for the entire Fortune 1000 list. Here we'll look at what the issues are, focusing on one of the biggest sectors of the market; gaming.
The Gaming Market
Women, according to an Entertainment Software Association report, make up very nearly half of regular gamers in 2014. If games companies are going to be successful in targeting a market that's half women, they are going to have to put women in positions of power, both in terms of game development and in broader areas. So what are the challenges faced by women within the industry?
The growth of the gaming industry has been rapid and sustained, and one of the fastest expanding areas has been the online casino sector. It's easy to see why; sites like River Belle offer players the chance to experience the thrills of a night at the tables without leaving home. There are plenty of women's success stories in the online casino industry itself; Casino Life magazine published an inspiring interview with five women working at a senior level in Romania last year.
While there are plenty of women entering, and being successful in, the games industry, there is a continuing problem with online harassment. This is often aimed at female games developers who take any kind of stand against the sexism that's still a feature of many games. There can be no doubt that some young women are put off entering an industry that, on the surface, is becoming more and more appealing to all age groups and genders, by the regular abusive trolling of female game developers who speak out on sexism in the industry.
And there's a vicious circle working here; the fewer women there are in the tech industries, the fewer role models there are for young women to look up to and seek advice from. However, they are there, and however slow progress is, there must eventually come a tipping point. Teju Deshpande, co-founder of Mindcrest, works on technology designed for law firms. In an interview with ChicagoBusiness.com she remembered the advice given to her by a female mentor when she started as an electronic engineer: "She told me, 'It's OK to be tough. Spend the hours—it won't always be like this.' " We can only hope she's right.
It has been, is and still will be a long and rocky path for women in the industry and like many things changes take time. It is vital that young women are encouraged to follow their dream and are provided with any possible support in order to achieve their goal because giving up a dream is just not an option.
- Jackie Farrow is currently studying journalism and is a freelance writer.
(Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures / Pixabay.com)
By Shreya Shankar, Global Tech Leader
College Station, TX
I like free shirts. I really do. Who doesn't?
The thought first struck me as I entered Rackspace HQ for my first hackathon, SOHacks. (Hackathons are competitions that last at least 24 hours, and you're expected to submit a project by the end. Your project could be a mobile app, website, or anything tech-related). Countless companies lined their own booths against the walls, giving away free shirts, stickers, food, and more. I got enough shirts to last me more than a week. It was pretty cool.
I didn't know what a hackathon was like before I attended SOHacks. I was, at first, apprehensive. I'm not the best coder. I haven't developed 15 apps like some of the other kids have. I was just a beginner. But after companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Microsoft gave me free t-shirts, water bottles and stickers, I decided that maybe the hackathon wasn't going to be so bad.
As we all congregated in a large room to officially begin the hackathon, I couldn't help but notice that there were very few girls. Again, another instance where females were underrepresented. As I talked to a few of the girls, I realized that many of them hadn't taken a coding class or computer science course before. Disappointed, I began to start working with my team -- which (yay for us) had 3 girls -- to develop our projects.
I quickly realized that my limited experience with seamlessly integrating APIs with my work wouldn't get me anywhere. Hour after hour passed by as my friends and I bugged literally the entire Android advising team to help us. At around 3 in the morning, we realized that we needed to come up with another idea, and we hastily came up with a website and text-messaging platform as our product (with a half hour nap in there somewhere).
At the awards ceremony, I was happy to see that a few girls were part of teams that placed in the top 5. However, the majority of award winners (15 or so) were boys. I'm not hating on boys here (they created some AMAZING products), but I want to point out that we NEED more females in hackathons.
After all, free shirts are pretty awesome, right?
By: Shreya Shankar, Global Tech Leader
"OMG -- this is so cool! I can now make links to other pages!" she said while I was teaching her HTML.
A faint smile played on my lips as I felt somewhat satisfied -- satisfied that I could help create a positive experience for middle school students through my passion for computer science. I mean, I kind of wish someone taught ME computer science when I was 11 or 12. I used Google Sites to create a personal site for myself (I won't attach any links to avoid any embarrassment for my 12-year-old self), but using Google Sites is far from coding from scratch. I'm happy to see that more middle school kids can experience hands-on programming.
Now that I've actually been able to share my passion for computer science with just thirty kids, I've become addicted to the feeling of satisfaction I obtain from helping other students learn. Organizations such as Global Tech Women and the National Center for Women in Technology have inspired me to make a difference not just in my community, but the world. The spark lit up in my head a few months ago as I put the pieces together: I love computer science, there aren't enough girls in computer science, and summer vacation was (thankfully) arriving pretty soon.
Just like that, I decided to start Camp Sci Girl (http://www.campscigirl.org) to close the gender gap in technology. Did you know that in 2012, only about 12% of computer science bachelor's degrees were awarded to women? We've got to change this. I've recruited over 50 mentors and participants around the world (thanks, girls) and am super excited to pilot the program in a few weeks. Make sure to check out Camp Sci Girl's twitter (http://www.twitter.com/campscigirl) to follow how we're trying to close the gender gap in technology.
What are Camp Sci Girl's goals? First, I'd like to highlight the fact that Camp Sci Girl will not be anything like your average online summer school. Camp Sci Girl is trying to steer away from the dreadful stereotype of mundane summer classes that kids can take to get ahead. What we're trying to do is expose middle school girls to computer science. About 50% of female K-12 students think that computer science careers are "odd" for girls to pursue. Camp Sci Girl aims to convince girls that computer science is most definitely a viable high school, college and career path. My team of mentors and I aren't trying to cram in as much knowledge into our students as we can; we want to provide our students with a fun, new learning experience.
By the end of Camp Sci Girl, I hope that our girls will realize that computer science isn't just for boys. I think my entire year would be made if a student of mine emailed me that she wanted to take programming in high school or attend a hackathon. Because really, with every additional girl that considers computer science as an option, the large gender gap in technology closes.
Someday, 50% of computer science bachelor's degrees will be awarded to women. But for that to happen, we've got to step up our game and help introduce younger girls to computer science.
By Rumbidzayi Mlambo, Zimbabwe and Global Tech Leader
Looking at myself right now I get goose bumps just by thinking of all the things I am doing, those i am about to do and those that i am planning to do. The future is filled with endless possibilities, I have the courage and confidence to pursue the things that I am passionate about that is Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and how I have found myself at the intersection of these amazing disciplines. I am a finally in a space where I can innovate and dare to challenge the status quo!
Let me tell you a little about myself and how I got into technology. firstly I am a mother of 6 and yes I went into labour 5 times and I have a step daughter. I was born in Kadoma a small town in Zimbabwe and grew up in Bulawayo the 2nd capital city of Zimbabwe. Growing up I was an intelligent child a book worm and a bit of a nerd. The problem was i never knew what I was going to do with my life. The careers I was exposed to were mainly teaching, nursing, medicine. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to be different. Igues looking back I can say that I wanted to innovate. I did well at school got chains of A's at O'Level and when it came to advanced level I just went with the flow never thinking really of what taking up certain subjects would mean. I knew I loved Sciences and so I chose to do Sciences. I had no one to help me and my parents were just proud of their daughter excelling and could not offer much support in this unknown territory. Same thing in college no one close to me knew what I should do at University and I changed a lot and settled with Biochemistry and Chemistry.
Still my thirst for Innovation was not quenched and I felt I liked everything, people thought I was just plain confused! I finished college not very inspired was pregnant by the we graduated and got married. I stayed at home and had more kids leaving my family disappointed and confused. I finally got to work at the university I attended 3 years later and thats when my journey began. I always found myself searching for solutions to problems even the non-technical ones e.g in administration, policy, management. I left my job at the University and went into Government and still found more problems in need of solving I was just amazed at the fact that no-one seemed to care and all they did was complain. I left again and went into the Research Council I figured they would be the ones researching all these problems and finding solutions to them. Still I was disappointed. I discovered the magic of Science and Technology though, through my online searches and Research. I discovered Intellectual property and knew I had to know more about how it impacts on Science and Technology (S&T). I left my job, abandoned my career, left my babies for another city to study Intellectual Property I came out more inspired and Ready to finally launch myself.
I discovered a mentor in one of my former bosses who told me she had seen something in me, a burning fire which showed in my work reports and work. her name is Rungano Karimanzira, she gave me the strength to continue to discover my dreams and showed me the ropes. She was and is still always there for me pushing me to do more, listening to me sharing her experience as a woman in a male dominated field she helped me find my place and voice amongst the male counterparts, she is also a mother and that common ground helped me manage the pressures of being a wife and a mother with my career. It was through our interaction that I discovered the TechWomen programme and I tell you my life will never be the same again. through this programme in the Silicon Valley I learnt that it was ok to like a lot of things, it was possible to integrate all the things I was passionate about and raise the stakes. I discovered that I could integrate my Biosciences, Chemical Sciences and Intellectual Property, with Technology and implement my ideas better. I discovered my inspiration through two amazing women in the Valley Meredith Mckenzie (Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Juniper Networks) my professional Mentor and Rochelle Kopp (Managing Principal of Japan Intercultural Consulting) my cultural Mentor.
I have benefited from the power of mentorship and networking. I hope that we can all take time out to encourage and support young girls it can make a difference. I will be introducing you to Zimbabwe's techwomen as I write about them and what they are doing.
From Global Tech Women: Rumbidzayi is a member of Global Tech Leaders and represents Zimbabwe. If you are interested in joining Rumbidzayi and other women from around the world learn more and sign up here.
By Shreya Shankar, College Station, TX
About thirty computer screens brightly flashed onto the faces of young students as I entered my local middle school's computer lab. My first reaction was, "Wow, these kids have fancy computers. I don't remember having such fancy computers six years ago."
But then I looked at what the kids were doing, and I was genuinely surprised. Each student was intently focused on his or her screen, learning Ruby. Well, with the exception of one kid, who was coding a website in HTML.
After sitting with a couple of girls - yes, girls! - who were trying to create an animation using Ruby, I realized that these students thought coding was fun. It wasn't a task to these kids. They created simple animations for fun, just like I put puzzles together for fun when I was a middle schooler. And they treated coding just like solving a puzzle - "hey, I should probably change the angle of rotation so the animal can travel this way" or "I should probably make a loop to repeat this function three times." It made me pretty happy to see the young students in my community critically think and solve problems.
The fact that there are some middle schoolers today that enjoy critical thinking restores my faith that maybe - just maybe - our generation isn't as doomed as what some people think. As I tutor some of my fellow high school students in physics and calculus, I come to realize that many students just don't feel like applying themselves to the task at hand. "Why can't I just Google the answer and move on?" is a frequently asked question during every tutoring session. I'm just afraid that the number of students who don't feel like applying themselves will grow every year. However, thankfully, most of the high schoolers I know dissect a problem when they cannot obtain the correct answer.
Now that I have seen 5th and 6th graders fall in love with critical problem solving and algorithm design, I feel better about us students in general. Working with the enthusiastic middle schoolers makes me extremely glad that I fell into computer science. The more kids who apply themselves, the merrier, right?
by Shreya Shankar
Global Tech Leader and High school junior, College Station, TX USA
I walked into my AP Compsci classroom on the first day of my sophomore year. I was the first girl there.
I was also the last girl there.
Every day, I sat in a classroom full of Asian and white males who basically did math and science for a living. I won't lie -- I was very intimidated for the first few weeks, being an underclassman female and all. Surprisingly, the boys treated me like any other kid in the class. I looked up to the boys as older brothers who could teach me programming, and I came to love computer science to the point where I took up a computer science/engineering internship at Texas A&M.
Things have changed quite dramatically at my high school. As I enthusiastically recommended girls to sign up for AP Compsci, more girls took the course. I never actively advocated for women in STEM classes; I just nonchalantly recommended the courses to kids who didn't know what to take. And that nonchalant recommendation was enough for girls to decide that they wanted to give computer classes a shot.
Recently, I've been involved in many efforts to boost female involvement in computer science. As a National Center of Women in Technology high school representative, I've been inspired to initiate a coding club for girls at my local middle school. However, after really talking to and working with other girls, I've come to realize what exactly pulls girls away from technology classes. It's not because high schools don't make an effort to draw kids into computer courses.
It's all about stereotypes.
When asked why she doesn't take computer classes in high school, the average girl responds with something similar to "It's only for those geeky boys." These girls think that they would do just fine in the class if they took it. They aren't scared of the boys. They know they're good enough to take any computer class they want to. However, girls don't want to do something that's "meant for boys," just like boys don't want to take dance classes that are "meant for girls."
So how do we fix this? How do we get more girls involved in computer classes?
Judging from my school, I think more and more girls are starting to take computer classes because they know of girls who have taken and enjoyed computer classes. All it takes is for one girl to show the other girls that girls can code, too. Coding isn't as hard as everyone thinks it is (well....unless you're a CS major or competitively code...maybe I should talk about competition experiences later...).
All in all, here's a message for all the high school girls out there -- just try compsci out. You'll like it. And, your friends will too.
GTW: To find out more about Global Tech Leaders, read about its members and learn how you can join and represent your region of the world, visit the Global Tech Leaders page.
By Deanna Kosaraju, Founder of Global Tech Women
Happy New Year amazing Global Tech Women! 2014 is going to be an unbelievable year filled with possibilities. As we start a brand new calendar with lots of open spaces which will quickly fill-up I would like to ask you to assess your own needs. Are you following your passion? Are you looking at the big picture or are you worried about cleaning out your inbox (or the kitty litter) after the holiday break? Read on...
Based on my experience working with technical women around the globe, here are the 5 things I recommend you consider:
1. What is your definition of success? Has it changed?
As we move through life our priorities change. If we are listening to that voice inside us our goals and objectives become more in-line with our true mission. We don't all aspire to be one thing -- imagine how boring life would be if this were the case! Don't listen to those outside sources that tell you there is only path and one way to get there. Not so! The most conventional thing about Global Tech Women is we are unconventional. I could bore you with my own personal trajectory here but I will spare you.
2. Look at the big picture. Be strategic, not tactical.
As Zig Ziglar says, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now". What are your big picture goals personally and professionally? This big picture thinking allows you to prioritize the tactical. By keeping an eye on the prize it gives you laser focus. When you are asked to do something that doesn't fit your long-term objective get rid of it, it isn't serving you. I understand this is easier said than done but it takes practice. At a minimum, you are making a conscious choice to delay your goals for this very important reason. Life happens. Just don't sign up for things without clearly understanding why you are doing it. If it is to please others, think twice.
3. Do you have the right tools to succeed?
I cannot tell you the number of women I have met who let their skills become antiquated and found themselves losing key projects, promotions, or even worse, their jobs. I know you are busy but only you can lookout for your future and this is part of that big picture thinking that must happen. Look at your resume or LinkedIn profile. Type into a job search site your most highly prized skills...is it RPG? In my zip code there are only two job openings for an RPG programmer (shocked there are two - if you weren't around in the 80's you probably don't know what RPG is - ignore). Python has 384 positions. Get a fresh perspective and ask a recruiter you trust their opinion of your current skill-set and experience given your goals. You need to know how relevant your skills now and in the long-term. Need speaking skills? Sign up for Toastmasters. Need project management certification, start now. You get the gist.
4. Ask for help.
Many women have a problem asking for help. They are trained as an egg to be Wonder Woman. Don't do this. Once you know where you are going and what you need --- ASK!!! This is why Global Tech Women exists. Our mission is to create a "global network of inspired, connected and self-actualized women". This means you. We can help. If we can't, we know someone who can. Join our Facebook group, sign-up for our newsletter, sign-up for the global virtual conference Voices, join our LinkedIn group or just email me. Our mission is to serve you.
5. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your mission and will go to battle for you.
I learned this one very late in my life. I always thought I could survive in any climate -- but why??? You need to surround yourself with people you trust, respect and share the same values you do. That doesn't mean they will always agree with you, that isn't what I am saying. It needs to be someone who is willing to give you their opinion. They are willing to open their brains, hearts and connections to help you get there. If you are not around people like this you need to set a new path and find them. Life is too short to hangout with the wrong people. They should lift you up, not drag you down. Having the right people around will not only help you reach your goals but you will have much more fun getting there.
I hope this is useful. Did I miss something? What would you like to add from your personal experience? Tell us what your passion is. ASK FOR HELP! I look forward to sharing ideas and conversations with you in 2014.
Happy New Year Global Tech Women. I am so honored we are connected.