Women in tech: a question of (in)equality

Women in tech: a question of (in)equality

Why not listening to good music while reading? My inspiration for this article about women in tech is Run the World – Beyoncé. Play it now!

In her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg writes:

The promise of equality is not the same as true equality

These words illustrate perfectly the reality of the tech industry. New technologies are omnipresent today and everybody is impacted by it in a way or another. Forecasts are positive when it comes to jobs and opportunities for all, hoping for a more equal world. Yet, there is one thing you should know: gender inequality is still clearly strong in the tech industry.

WOMEN IN TECH: HISTORY AS A PROOF

 

Technology, computing, digital… all that we know today was not exclusively created by men. Many women actively contributed to it and they should be thanked for their work. Let’s review some of them!

Ada Lovelace – (1815-1852)

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace is the inventor of the first algorithm to be applied by a machine. For that, she has been given the nickname “first computer programmer”. She also brought out important questions regarding society considering technology to a collaborative tool. Impressive for the time!

Kay McNulty, Betty Jenning, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman – 1946

Called the ENIAC 6, these six women programmed one of the first computers in History, the ENIAC. An interesting thing to know is that some of them did not receive any recognition for their work during their lifetimes. Also, many people and especially historians were persuaded that they were only “refrigerator ladies”.  It means that, for them, their job was only to refresh the machines while they were, in fact, creating something big.

Grace Hopper – (1906-1992)

This woman created the first computing language called COBOL. For her work, she received the award of Computer Science Man of the Year by the Data Processing Management Association in 1969. Great for a woman! Later, in 1991, she was given the National Medal of Technology which constitutes a high honour in the USA for people working in the tech industry.

 

Radia Perlman – (1951-)

 Have you heard about the Spanning Tree Protocol? Well, Radia Perlman does! She conceived the algorithm behind it, consisting of the “basic traffic rules” of the Internet we know today. She is named “The Mother of the Internet”.

WOMEN IN TECH: A SYMBOL OF GENDER INEQUALITY

 

Women making History was unfortunately not enough to have gender equality in the tech industry. Many reports have been published the last 10 years to illustrate it, showing that the tendency continues to be the same. Here are four figures to help you measure it:

1. Syntec Numérique realized a study in which is highlighted the fact that in 2016, only 33% of total employees in the digital industry in France were women. Among them, only 16% had jobs such as developers. Others were working in human resources, communication or administration for example.

2. In the USA, the National Center for Women Information Technology released a report in 2016 showing that only 25% of total computing jobs are held by women. This situation is even more concerning for Asian women who represent only 5% out of the 25%, African American women (3%) and Latina women (1%). And the evolution from year to year is not positive…

Percentage of computing occupations held by women - Author: Julie Compagny

Percentage of computing occupations held by women – Author: Julie Compagny

3. The same report proved that 41% of all women employed in the high-tech industry quit in 2015. This is huge compared to men: only 17% of them did it. This report allows an understanding that the main reason why women left their job has nothing to do with family concerns. Indeed, they perceived no possibility of evolution and development in the companies they were working in, leading them to change job.

4. In 2017, 30% of all Google employees worldwide were women and, actually, it has been the case since 2014. Three female employees took the company to the court in 2017 because they were less paid than men. It seems that Google still has a lot to learn!

Distribution of Google employees worldwide from 2014 to 2018, by gender - Author: Julie Compagny

Distribution of Google employees worldwide from 2014 to 2018, by gender – Author: Julie Compagny

WOMEN IN TECH: LET’S BE POSITIVE

 

The benefits of gender equality

 

Of course, it exists many benefits for gender equality in the tech industry. Two insights are very interesting to look at though and we will focus on them.

The first one is that with gender equality in tech, we could take advantage of the competencies, ideas and solutions that 50% of the population could bring. Image what we could have had today in terms of new technologies if we included a lot more women earlier!

The second one is that over 1.4 million computing job will be open by 2020 in the USA. Nonetheless, with the current computing grads of the country, only 30% of those jobs would be taken. It is then a huge opportunity for women who are totally needed!

 

How to encourage gender equality?

 

Here again, there are many ways to encourage gender equality. The most logical solutions are very often the ones we do not think about.

Regarding companies, simplifying job descriptions and being honest about the must-haves is a good solution to have more women applying. A fact is that a woman will apply to a job if 100% of the criteria meet who she is whereas a man will apply to the same job if only 60% of the criteria meet who he is. Making job descriptions easier is then a source of opportunity for women. Companies can also promote inclusion and diversity and make it a real priority for all employees, men and women. Encourage its female employees to develop their competencies and reach higher levels is necessary and will favour gender equality.

Other solutions exist and you should try them: find a mentor to help you, integrate an association or a digital community, have a role model to project yourself and above all, believe in yourself and do not forget that yes, it is possible! If others succeeded, why won’t you?

Gender inequality in tech can be challenged and it is our responsibility, to all of us, to make things change.

In her book, Sheryl Sandberg also writes:

We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change

I really hope that these words will be meaningful to you and that after having read this article, you will actively fight for gender equality in the tech industry.

HAS LINKEDIN BECOME THE CV OF THE WORLD?

HAS LINKEDIN BECOME THE CV OF THE WORLD?

Why not listening to good music while reading? My inspiration for this article is Around the World – Daft Punk. Play it now!

What would you do if you had to look for a job right now? You would probably work on your CV, subscribe to specific job-searching websites to create an online version and make the most of social networks, especially LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional social network created in 2003 which has over 546 million members in more than 200 countries. It plays such a key role in people’s professional life that some people do not bother with creating a classic CV anymore. Taking this into account, one can easily wonder: has LinkedIn become the CV of the world?

The power of LinkedIn

Evolution of LinkedIn

One of the main reasons we can consider LinkedIn as “the CV of the world” is its evolution. Five years after its creation, it launched a global strategy by introducing Spanish and French versions of the website. In 2010, it counted 90 million members. In 2013, 2 new members subscribed per second and more than 225 million people were active on the network. Today, with its 546 million members and availability in 24 languages, it is the biggest professional network in the world. People around the world can exchange and look for professional opportunities worldwide – even in China where other social media such as Facebook are prohibited.

Evolution of the number of LinkedIn's members

Evolution of the number of LinkedIn’s members – Author: J.C. – Source: Statista 2019

From a static CV to a dynamic one

Compared to classic CVs, a “LinkedIn profile is different, it’s an active document that can be regularly revised” and from which people can interact with other members, which is amazing both for recruiters and job seekers. Most importantly, they can provide and receive recommendations. As comments come from someone else, there is a much higher level of trust, making profiles much more valuable.

With LinkedIn, people are not only judged on their competencies anymore. With LinkedIn, social abilities are now integrated into the CV and become crucial to show who you really are. With LinkedIn, you are not limited by one page, the tone used can be informal, you can present your information as you wish and you can add content, links and media (photos and videos). It is the perfect professional tool for someone who needs to demonstrate her/his creativity and for those who want to present an authentic persona.

Social and economic graphs

According to Techopedia, the social graph is a representation of “all the members, organizations, groups and other user-end components of a social network and the relation/connection between them”. It portrays who people know, how they know them and the group of influence they have. Following this logic, LinkedIn is built on our own professional graph. Add this to the data-driven culture of the social network, and the notion of the classic CV is totally redesigned in such a way that the world can easily be connected.

A whole world to conquer

A whole world to conquer – Author: J.C.

The economic graph, as defined by LinkedIn, is “a digital representation of the global economy based on over 546 million members, 50,000 skills, 30 million companies, 20 million open jobs and 84,000 schools”.The company has based its entire vision and strategy on it, aiming at gathering all workers, companies, institutions, jobs and skills of the world on its platform. A great example of its application is the partnership with Les Hauts-de-France, set up to understand and highlight the needs and offers that are specific to this region to revitalize its economic activity. This is just one region in France, so imagine what the results could be if it was applied on a worldwide scale!

Microsoft’s help

In 2016, Microsoft bought out LinkedIn. Together, they launched Resume Assistant, a new tool in Word that helps people conceive better CVs thanks to similar LinkedIn profiles. It can either suggest work experience descriptions or skills and competencies to match a particular job offer.

Why is it a strength for LinkedIn? To use Resume Assistant, people do not need a LinkedIn profile but simply a Microsoft 365 subscription. In other words, the social network found a way to reach the few who decided not to use its platform. It found a way to collect their data and connect it to others’. So far it is only available in a few select countries but if the concept works, the entire world may be concerned very soon.

Learn more about the partnership by watching this video:

Still a long way to go

LinkedIn might be powerful but it seems to be evolving without taking into consideration some important facts.

Do not forget the discrimination debate

To be successful on LinkedIn, it is mandatory to put a picture of yourself and give your real name; the exact opposite of what is recommended to avoid discrimination. Other criteria to remove are nationality and birth date. A study conducted by O. Aslund and O. Skans in 2017 named Do anonymous job application procedures level the playing field?reached the following conclusion: “women and ethnic minorities, who are disadvantaged elsewhere in the economy, do not experience a penalty in the interview selection stage when applying to jobs using AAP (Anonymous Application Procedure)”. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense that some people may choose to not be part of the LinkedIn mania. The social network will have to consider the discrimination debate if it does not want it to become an obstacle to its growth.

Access to the Internet is still a dilemma

As explained before, LinkedIn wishes to gather all universities, workers, companies of the world on its platform thanks to the economic graph. But how does the company expect to achieve this when many countries are still very far from having a complete access to the Internet? The last digital report by We Are Social and Hootsuite reveals that 57% of the world population are Internet users and 45% are social media users. Reading the numbers the other way round: 43% of the world population do not have access to the Internet and 55% are not on social networks. It is clearly not enough for LinkedIn to reach its economic graph objective.

South Africa poverty

South Africa – Author: J.C.

South Africa poverty

South Africa – Author: J.C.

LinkedIn is a powerful professional network. Spread worldwide, it is definitely becoming the first tool used by people around the globe to find their next professional network. Nevertheless, it has to be aware of the world’s reality and take it into consideration to be sure to meet its expectations.

So, has LinkedIn become the CV of the world? Hard to say yes for now even though it seems quite right to say that LinkedIn is becoming the CV of the world.

If you are interested in the subject, here is another article (in French!) you might like, published by Visionary Marketing: https://bit.ly/2XuNprH

Read this article by Nathalie Espenel about How to keep people engaged: https://bit.ly/2C2XNOd

Check my previous articles:

Ethics and Digital: Friend or Foe?  https://bit.ly/2R87UG1

Social Media and Digital: Changing the World Online https://bit.ly/2ErTXi8

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ACTIVISM: CHANGING THE WORLD ONLINE

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ACTIVISM: CHANGING THE WORLD ONLINE

Why not listening to good music while reading? My inspiration for this article about social media activism is Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2. Play it now! 

Protest in Buenos Aires for the International Women's Day

Protest in Buenos Aires for the International Women’s Day – March 08, 2017 – photographer: Julie Compagny

Activism is “the use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one”. If going to the streets used to be the only way to protest, the rise of the Internet has changed the game. Today, 4.028 billion people are Internet users and 3.196 billion active social media users, representing 53% and 42% of the world population, respectively. In 2017, we counted an additional 248 million Internet users and 362 million social media users. Just imagine: it is 5,4 times the French population.

Activists, just like anybody else, take advantage of new opportunities brought by the Internet. But is this new form of expression really efficient?

WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA EMPOWER PEOPLE

 

Social media brings confidence to many people who are not scared anymore to say what they really think. A study by the Pew Research Center demonstrates that around half of Americans have engaged in some form of political or social-minded activity on social media in 2017. This phenomenon is particularly true when it comes to minorities: social media platforms are very important for half of black social media users in the USA, whether it is to express their political opinion or to engage in situations they feel concerned about.

What could encourage them to rely on social media? Well, let’s say… hashtags. First introduced on Twitter by Chris Messina in 2007, hashtags are now everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +… all platforms have incorporated them, allowing users to see what the new trends are and to add importance to their posts. Because here is the true power of hashtags: it gives people the chance to feel united and strong while talking about a specific topic.

#BlackLivesMatter

One of the most significant examples is the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Created in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman – a policeman who shot to death Trayvon Martin, a 17-years-old black man – this hashtag was used approximatively 30 million times on Twitter with 17,002 mentions per day on average. The reason for this success is the black community’s wish to be seen, listened and understood. It is the desire to show they are numerous even though they are considered as a minority. Behind this hashtag, there is the opportunity for them to prove that strength lies in numbers and that they can act to make things change. Behind this hashtag, there are millions of people doing activism online.

#MeeToo

A more recent illustration is #Metoo. One year ago, the famous Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano encouraged all women who had ever been sexually harassed to write ‘me too’ as a status. Soon, thousands of women answered her tweet worldwide. Employed more than 2 million times in 85 countries in only 2 days, #MeToo has been adapted in many languages: #YoTambien in Spain, #QuellaVoltaChe in Italy, #BalanceTonPorc in France or even #أنا كمان in Arab countries.

 

If Milano’s aim was to have a vision of the scope of this problem, gender equality supporters began to jump at the chance to voice their beliefs and make the impact even bigger. Suddenly, it was not only about denouncing but acting together to make things change. One year later, many activists feel optimistic about the future such as Rebecca Amsellem, founder of the newsletter Les Glorieuses. In an interview for Francetvinfo, she states that it is the beginning of something bigger such as the coming of a true gender equality. For others, like Aija Mayrock, a bestselling author and activist, the fight is not over, and social media are still a perfect place to talk. For the Day of the Girls, she broadcasted the following video on Youtube and Twitter:

 

SOCIAL MEDIA YES, BUT NOT ONLY

 

Would these examples of activism have had the same impact without social media as a support? Certainly not. Yet, it is important to highlight that even though social media is a great tool to amplify the impact, no change can be entirely made by staying online.

Trends are only for a time
#BringBackOurGirls

#BringBackOurGirls – photographer: Julie Compagny

Four years ago, 276 girls were kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram’s armed forces. Various associations and NGOs around the world immediately reacted on the Internet and, with celebrities’ help, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls appeared. This time, the movement consisted in taking a selfie with a piece of paper on which the hashtag was mentioned. The engagement was high but unfortunately, as trends are short-lived, it lasted only a time before moving to the next subject. Also, online activism engendered a global awareness but did not trigger a military response from other countries worldwide that was strong enough to solve the situation.

Government regulations

Another reality is that some countries impose strong barriers to online activism. China, for instance, punishes all forms of activism and massively regulates online activities. As mentioned by Hervé Fischer, “the Chinese government attempts to maintain control in spite of everything, and in 2000 it proclaimed three laws in quick succession to curtail expression”(1). A real obstacle for activists who cannot fight using digital assets. For those who try, the consequences are serious: people such as Gup Qinghai – a man who spread articles about democracy on the Web – are condemned to prison or even worse, to labour camps.

Today, social media and the Internet are not sufficient yet to create real changes; even though they are crucial for a worldwide movement. Without the protest marches, the intervention of experts on TV sets or during radio shows, and the intervention of other media, there are a few chances that governments finally react.

So, online activism? Yes, please! But do not forget: “Online and on-land activities augment one another; they have to in order for social change to happen” (2).

 

To go further, watch this TEDxTalk by Zeynep Tufekci about “How the Internet has made social change easy to organize, hard to win”:

 

(1) Hervé Fischer, Digital Shock: Confronting the New Reality, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, translated in 2006 by Rhonda Mullins.

(2) Beth Kanter & Allison H. Fine, The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to DrivChange, John Wiley & Sons, USA, 2010.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ACTIVISM: CHANGING THE WORLD ONLINE

Alcohol advertising on social media: a problem for companies?

On Friday 12th, we had the pleasure to meet Pauline Roussel, social media manager for Champagne Krug. A great occasion to touch on the subject of the challenges of digital marketing for alcohol brands.

Loi Evin: a regulation to keep in mind

If you are working in advertising and your client is an alcohol company, keep in mind the two following words: Loi Evin. In effect since January 10th 1991, this law aims to regulate the tobacco and alcohol industries in France.

What does the law say?  

Not all communication supports are allowed for alcohol ads. For instance, cinema and television are totally forbidden. You will never hear an ad on the radio on Wednesday and between 5 p.m. and midnight in order to reduce the possibilities of children being exposed to the content. There is no objection against OOH, print and radio at other times of the day as long as a specific preventive health message appears on the visuals. Most importantly, the law allows a presentation of the beverage throughout the ad, but it cannot be by any way an incentive to consume.

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