Friday, May 30, 2014

Getting Diversity and Inclusion Right in Your Company

by Shelley Reciniello
Originally Published: May 30th, 2014

Many companies pour money into diversity and inclusion initiatives only to find themselves stuck and their pipelines empty. How truly diverse and inclusive is your organization? Are women, minorities, people of different generations, ethnicities, races, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations all included?
It isn’t easy to get this right. The primary reason is that everybody has preconceived notions of other people and these are largely unconscious. Good people can think and feel things that are not true or kind or fair. Becoming aware of our inner level of prejudices, the ways we classify and stereotype other people, and making the roots of these attitudes conscious, is a necessity in 21st century leadership.
You may balk at this, thinking “I don’t have prejudices.” But the truth is, we are all hardwired through evolution to seek out people who look like us for security and protection. We consciously and unconsciously hire people who look like or remind us of ourselves.
Embracing difference, when it is easier to surround yourself with people who are just like you, will rock your world. You will have to go deep down inside yourself to examine and challenge what feels natural to you. You may seize on superficial similarities so that you can avoid the big differences that make you feel uncomfortable. You may also make the assumption that all minority members are the same, see things the same way and want the same things. This is what happens when a token woman or African American is appointed to the board. Individual differences are critical but they are lost on us when we are so anxious to avoid the big differences among people that we focus only on what is comfortably familiar.
You will need to look instead for the meaningful similarities you share with others that will help you overlook unessential differences. When we become comfortable with our human sameness, we can enjoy our cultural and individual uniqueness. But, until you do the work to become conscious of what influences how you look at a person or situation, you will get it wrong.
The poet and professor, Dr. Maya Angelou, did the work. When you were in her presence, you could feel with certainty that she could see you as you truly are. Last year, when she was asked in an interview, “How can what you say and what you write resonate so thoroughly with such a wide spectrum of people?” she said simply that it came from, “seeing us as more alike than unalike.”
You and your company culture must create an unrelenting commitment to consciousness around this issue. Ask yourself, what do you do on a daily basis that might be a way you treat others not based on who they are, but on who you prejudge them to be? Universities and legal and judicial systems have been raising awareness about micro-inequities and micro-aggressions, referring to the small ways that human beings interact and unwittingly convey discriminatory feelings. You know how subtle this can be. An offhand remark, a smirk, a wink, a tone that says volumes about who is accepted and who is condescended to, tolerated, or humored. At the root of these behaviors is unconscious bias.
Peter Drucker warned us that we would have to become “citizens of the world” if we were going to thrive in a globalized economy. If you and your employees can’t relate to people from different worlds with openness, curiosity and respect, your competitors will. The best way to achieve that edge is to make sure that you have a workforce that understands, through its own experience, how to communicate, relate and negotiate across difference.
Dr. Maya Angelou observed that we “allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, alone in genders.” The legacy she leaves with us is to follow her example and overcome our ignorance.
In business, we can meet this challenge using consciousness as the antidote to ignorance.

Read the original article from Entrepreneur here: 

Google Diversity Report and Unleashing STEM Mentors

by Julie Kantor
Originally Published: May 30th, 2014

This post was co-authored with Dominik Sauter.
The cats out of the bag...
Google's big news about the diversity of their workforce is sending shockwaves through corporate and nonprofit America this week in a bold announcement by Google's SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock who shared on PBS that 17 percent of tech jobs at Google are filled by women and under 3 percent by minorities.
In an industry where the competition is showing similar lack of diversity , Google made a bold move to share the sobering news at a time when most tech companies arenot divulging such intel (... we hear Facebook plans to do the same). Bock shares that Google is openly trying to right a wrong and decrease social and gender bias that's rampant in Silicon Valley and in many STEM industries.
A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to speak at the Empowered Women's Network event as Cisco Live! The event had doubled in size from last year and top C-suite leaders were there in force. Cisco brought us to share a little secret, that has bigpotential for girls in STEM. Million Women Mentors, an idea started 18 months ago, is picking up speed to secure one million men and women to mentor girls and young women in STEM skills. Through five suggested pathways and a minimum 20-hour commitment, the the end goal is ultimately achieving more gender equality and diversity in dynamic STEM careers. 58,000 have already pledged to mentor.
So many of companies in attendance shared with us a very similar story to Google's and are looking for concrete action to increase their female participation and hiring of minorities through internships, apprenticeships, university partnerships, and mentoring around STEM skills.
Our friend Chad Womack of UNCF shared the discussions between University Presidents of Historically Black Colleges (HBCU's) who have met with Silicon Valley leaders in the past few months to dialogue around hiring more from HBCU's and curriculum enhancements needed for the schools to match Silicon Valley's hiring needs.
Retention is "Queen", but we also need to look at the K-J pipeline (kindergarden through jobs) For example, we know from new research shared by My College Options that out of 368,000 high school girls interested in pursuing STEM careers (15 percent of girls surveyed), only 4 percent were encouraged to do so by a mentor.
Silicon Valley and U.S. companies represent the best of the best to encourage the other 96% of these girls through taking a stand for mentoring and bringing diverse mentors to the table. Google's and our Country's future workforce of 2016 and 2020 need you today. Although achieving gender equality can't be done overnight, what we can do is dedicate ourselves to changing the norms and stereotypes that inhibit women and minorities from tapping into their true potential and securing lucrative careers.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

We're at a tipping point for transgender equality

by Jane Fae
Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

An unstoppable impulse is about to sweep away traditional ideas of gender – and we'll all benefit
    Male, Female and Transgender Gender Symbols Laser Neon
Male, female and transgender symbols. ‘Despite decades of equal opportunities, one of the first things you are likely to be asked by a prospective employer is “what is your gender?”’ Photograph: Alamy
Is transgender the new gay? Is the transgender cause the next great frontier when it comes to human rights, as Time magazine boldly declared on Thursday? I'm not altogether sure it's right. In fact, I rather hope it's wrong.
Of course, there are "transgender issues". The trans community may have won a few significant battles in the UK, but the broad response to anything transgender is still one of suspicion, rooted in a deep-seated cultural hostility to anything that "deviates" from the norms of sexuality or gender.
Trans people remain discriminated against at work, in housing and in education. A simple night out on the town still carries dangers that the equivalent non-trans expedition would not. Same-sex marriage, which our political masters proclaimed as "equal", is anything but – with two enormous loopholes written into recent English legislation "because trans is different". Transgender people suffer shameful, humiliating and sometimes downright negligent encounters with medical professionals, while the authorities continue to wage war on those who provide a trans-friendly medical service.
Yet change is coming. The trans community is self-aware and out, and campaigning in a way unthinkable a decade ago. We are now recognised as a legitimate focus for minority protection. And far more important, we are beginning to take back control of our destiny and our definition from others who have little empathy or understanding of us: from the medics, the religious, and those radical feminists who all claim to know our natures far better than we do.
More people are identifying as transgender – 10% more each year, according to Home Office figures – which goes way beyond the simplistic public understanding of "gender bending" trans women and men, and takes in the non-binary too.
And here's why I don't want the next big thing to be all about trans, and why I don't think it will be: some of these battles are private grief; issues that few outside the trans community will ever truly comprehend. We will fight them and I expect we will win most of them, because in the end, not to allow us to win is simply cruel. That is why it feels like we are at a tipping point in the UK, in the US and in other countries in the liberal west – and not, yet, in Russia or India or Saudi Arabia.
There are issues, though, where the challenge of integrating transgender people opens up much wider debate. On identity, on the right to be forgotten, on the recording of gender details on almost every form we are asked to fill in. These all raise fundamental questions about how things are. For, despite decades of equal opportunities, one of the first things you are likely to be asked by a prospective employer or government department is "what is your gender?"
Why? In a society where gender is allegedly no longer an issue, whose business is it of anyone but the individual concerned and those closest to them? Trans folk are not the only ones making the running here, nor should we be. At a personal level I have raised issues of name change and gender recording with the information commissioner, because they affect trans folk – but the reality is that they affect women far more.
Wider still, there is society's continuing insistence on its right to police women's bodies – the shame of failing to look feminine enough. That, too, is an issue that non-trans women have long protested against, but is also at the root of much of the vitriol thrown in the direction of the trans female community. Trans men, on the other hand, are increasingly visible, and are raising another equally vital question around the blurring of boundaries between butch and masculine and male.
Trans is on the agenda and, unless your view of trans folk is essentially rooted in bigotry, the unstoppable impulse is towards change. That's great. But when we look back, 100 years from now, at the great changes that I believe are about to sweep away traditional ideas of gender, will we see this as a trans moment? Or merely a moment when all sorts – trans, feminist and the downright bolshie – asked some awkward questions, and finally started to make a difference?

Read the original article from The Guardian here: 

Racism Impacts Small Business Loan Applicants

by Chad Brooks
Originally Published: May 30th, 2014

When it comes to obtaining financing to start a new business, minorities are facing an uphill battle, new research shows.
Minorities seeking small business loans are treated differently than their white counterparts, despite having identical qualifications on paper, according to a new study that appears online in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"There is a general belief among Americans that we're the land of opportunity and that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps," said study co-author Glenn Christensen, an associate professor of marketing at Brigham Young University. "It is a land of opportunity, but that opportunity is not always equally accessible."
As part of the study, the researchers recruited three black, threeHispanic and three white small-business owners to try and secure loans. The entrepreneurs wore the same clothes, asked for identical $60,000 loans to expand identical businesses and had nearly identical backgrounds.
The study's authors found that the minority loan seekers were given less information on loan terms, were asked more questions about their personal finances and were offered less application assistance by loan officers.
"If you are white and set out to get financing for an entrepreneurial venture, it might be a tough journey," Christensen said. "But, generally speaking, you would experience fewer obstacles and find more help along the way than if you came from an African-American or Hispanic background."
In the second part of the study, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 39 small business owners — 16 white, 13 Hispanic and 10 black — about their experiences seeking funding. They discovered that the denial, rejection and restricted access to loansfor minorities led to self-questioning and diminished self-worth and self-esteem.
"While racial and ethnic minorities have made significant progress in terms of race relations over the past several decades, the harsh reality is that there still are remnants of discrimination in society," said co-author Jerome Williams, director of the Center of Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University. "It is appropriate to continue asking the question, 'Is the glass half empty, or is the glass half full?' in terms of progress being made in eradicating discrimination in the marketplace?"
The researchers said the study offers evidence that choice is not open, unrestricted and available to everyone in the United States.
"Many consumers are driven to start their own business as part of their journey for the American Dream," said study co-author Sterling Bone, a professor of business at Utah State University. "They knock doors, and they chase after this dream, only to find that because they are a minority, their ability to lay hold of that dream for themselves and their families is frustrated."

Read the original article from Business News Daily here: 

Angel Business Suite explain why flexible working can help a business thrive

by Victoria Smith
Originally Published: May 30th, 2014

Flexible working is something that makes staff feel more able to get a good balance between their professional roles and the other areas of their lives. When their hours and work location aren't so rigid, they tend to be less stressed

The traditional ideas about how and when professionals should work are something that have been challenged a lot over the past decade or so, and it is becoming ever clearer that businesses who offer some flexibility in terms of working arrangements see a lot of benefits.Angel Business Suite, a serviced office and meeting space located at 23-26 St Albans Place, N1 0NX, offers businesses long term office rentals or meeting and conferencing spaces that can allow them to provide a more flexible environment to their teams by giving them full support, unrestricted working hours and a choice of office configurations. Here, the building manager explains why things like these make a difference:
'Flexible working is something that makes staff feel more able to get a good balance between their professional roles and the other areas of their lives. When their hours and work location aren't so rigid, they tend to be less stressed and happier with their situation, and a happy workforce is something with obvious benefits. Staff who feel their jobs fit around their other needs well are more likely to stay with a company, and in London's competitive market, staff retention is an important issue.
When people use the office spaces at Angel Business Suite, therefore, we make it possible for them to decide when they want to use it, rather than restricting support to traditional business hours' said Angel Business Suite's building manager.
Of course, hours aren't the only area where businesses can often add some extra flexibility. In many cases, thanks to modern technology, a lot of staff, or even whole businesses, can work from home and exist without a true 'office'. While this can lead to huge cost savings and is appealing to staff because they too can save on things like travel costs and can work more easily around their family lives, it does mean that when face to face meetings are needed, a location for them needs to be found. This is another of the services Angel Business Suite offer.
'If a company who don't have a fixed headquarters, or don't have their own meeting spaces in London, need to hold important internal meetings or want a professional looking, attractive place to carry out things like sales pitches or job interviews, we have a range of serviced meeting facilities that can allow them to do this. This can solve a lot of logistical problems for companies who are largely telecommuting based.'

Read the original article from here: 

Gender Stereotypes In Academia Keep Women Out?

Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

In the medical work force, women have representation no different than any other corporation. That makes sense, women have accounts for half of all medical student graduates for decades.
Yet in the top tiers of academia, they lag behind men. Is that gender bias? It is, claims Dr. Anna Kaatz and Dr. Molly Carnes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Academics may have another answer; tenure. It is quite common for the corporate world to change jobs but tenure in academia means never having to look for a job again. Just because there has been parity in medical school enrollment for a generation does not mean the older generation would just quit working. What they do not examine is whether or not women are hired more or less when they apply for tenure and faculty jobs, they simply relay anecdotes. The somewhat redundant Title IX (the Civil Rights Act a few years earlier had done the exact same thing) mandated again that there could be no discrimination, that time specifically based on gender, but it did not mandate that people in jobs had to be fired to achieve equality. The authors invoke that but the evidence from other sources refutes it. Medicine likely has the most equality in representation while engineering has the most equality in pay. Even women, more inclined to be biased than men when it comes to doctor gender, ask for a male gynecologist far less than in the past.

But gender bias is a good non-specific claim. Since it is entirely subjective it requires little evidence. In even the hard sciences, women are not hired less for tenure and faculty jobs, they are actually over-hired. But until people holding jobs retire or die they don't get to apply so it is accepted that it is a time issue rather than a bias one. It would not be ethically superior to engage in age bias, or overthrowing how academia operates, to force gender parity.

The authors make no secret of the fact that they want to find gender bias. That means they will find it. It's just unfortunate that efforts can't be more culturally agnostic so that results can actually contribute to a meaningful discussion about representation. There is no entire industry within academia devoted to mandating more representation of handicapped people and Republicans, for example, though both of those are obviously blocked out when the numbers are analyzed the same way. When those topics come out, it is dismissed as choice. 

Read the original article from Science 2.0 here: 

10 Signs of Institutionalized Racism

by Robin L. Hughes
Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

During a recent conversation about sports, athletics and sports organizations, a student asked me how organizations should go about recognizing institutional racism. What does it looks like? Great question. And sometimes, I stated, it is easy to recognize, but let’s be clear here, while the focus has been on the NBA and sporting over the last few weeks, structural and institutionalized racism occurs everywhere — even in nice places like education.
For instance, folks tend to move to spaces where one might find great schools, great teachers and more without ever thinking about what “great” might mean. Ask a realtor what they mean by great schools. Good test scores. Good grades. Blue ribbon schools. Where are the “good spaces” located, and who tends to teach, administrate and attend those “good” schools? Located in those good schools, one can assume would be good teachers. In fact, one of the leading criteria for assessing those “great schools” is whether a teacher has significant instructional experience. However, if one has had years of experience teaching in “good schools” and those schools tend not to be diverse, I would argue that an institutional racism problem may also reside in those “great schools.”
In fact, since racism is a part of the very cultural fabric in which we live in the United States, it often goes unnoticed, ignored or denied. Racism becomes much like the air in which we breathe … normal. Most folks have no reason to dare or even think about questioning that which is normal — that which is business as usual. Because this peculiar institution, racism, becomes a part of the very structure in which one resides, operates and works; institutions and organizations also yield to structurally racialized spaces. Institutional racism is a powerful system of privilege and power based on race. Those powerful structures begin and are perpetuated by seemingly innocent, normal events and daily occurrences and interactions.
I ask folks to think about events that you have attended and who is in attendance. Think about neighborhoods in which one lives, schools attended, parks visited, visiting the homes of friends, parties, weddings, everyday functions. What do the demographics of those events look like? Those events seem so innocent, seem so normal. However, if most folks spend time with folks who look exactly like themselves, how are relationships formed with anyone who might be different — in terms of race? When those same folks who have never been exposed to difference enter institutions and organizations that purportedly “embrace and celebrate diversity” — how does one embrace or celebrate those ideals?
Interestingly, there is a large body of research that clearly suggests that folks tend to hire and rehire folks who tend to act and look exactly themselves. So, exactly what do those organizations mean when they report embracing, celebrating and hiring a racially diverse pool of applicants? Given the statistics about who is typically hired at most organizations — let’s say Fortune 500 companies — I would say that it does not mean much, other than those organizations might just have a structural racism problem, given their hiring practices.
How are the roots of structural and institutionalized racism formed? It’s subtle. It seems normal. It seems innocent. That is the way that institutionalized racism works; it is rooted in the core of one’s everyday existence yet it is easy to detect if we just look and assess.
  1. If you live in the United States and you have never been around anyone or very few people of color, you may just be a part of a structurally racist system. [You might also claim that some of your best friends are, but if you have to count, then there is still a problem]
  2. When buildings are erected in the name of someone and the someone is never a person of color, then you might be sending messages to everyone about folks who are powerful, smart and valued. That is how institutionalized racism works.
  3. When pictures of presidents, board members, award-winning whomevers are hung, and they do not depict a demography that matches that of the state, city or the country, then your organization might have an institutional racism problem.
  4. Look at the organizational structure to which you belong. If the organization is disproportionately White in all upper levels positions, and all of the folks in lower level positions are folks of color, then your organization may have an institutionalized racism problem.
  5. Take a look at the hires in your own department. If it is all White, then you may just have an institutional racism problem. In addition, if the department has hired one person of color, and claims or believes that diversity goals have been met, you still have a problem.
  6. When you and the administration can name the one or two folks of color who are routinely asked to reside on every committee in your organization, then you might have an institutionalized racism problem. [BTW, folks of color can name the one or two “usual suspects” in their organization.]
  7.  If those same folks who serve are always the same ones — the “usual suspects” — you might ask why? Often times, the “usual suspects” are chosen to serve because there are few folks of color in the organization, yet sometimes, the “usual suspects” are chosen because administrators are mostcomfortable with some people of color.  Everyone has a unique biography, consciousness and reaction to oppression. In fact, those “biographies,” one’s consciousness, and or dispositionality, can resonate with those in power. In other words, the “usual suspects” will often receive nominal gratuitous rewards — appointments to menial positions, important hiring committees and some even receive “awards” for keeping their mouths shut. So yes, you may have still have an institutional racism problem.
  8. Take a look at who receives highly honored awards in your organizations … and ask why they receive them? [For instance, regarding institutions of higher education, look at endowed chairs, chancellor’s professors, even teaching awards]. You may have an institutionalized racism problem if there are few or no folks of color in the pool. Also note that if the award is granted for something diversity related, people of color tend to receive them. Again, see number 4 and ask whether the institution is rewarding the often accommodating “usual suspects.” Again, this may be an indication of a problem with institutionalized racism.
  9. When you are constantly looking for the “right fit,” and the “right fit” tends to always look like the rest of the folks that you have hired already, then you just might have an institutional racism problem.
  10. When given a chance to hire someone of color, but instead someone from your hiring committee or upper-level administration chooses to make a phone call to someone that they have known, and again, they tend to “fit” and look exactly like the majority of the institution, then your organization might have an institutionalized racism problem.
Institutionalized racism occurs in a number of spaces and organizations. While I have made reference to employees, please know that students throughout the P-20 pipeline are the victims of institutionalized racism. Take a look at who is considered to be gifted and talented. Who is typically awarded advanced placement status? Who is most often referred to special education? Who is disproportionately expelled and suspended for minor infractions (if we must refer to an eye roll as an infraction. Sometimes I don’t know how I made it through high school given the number of eye rolls delivered on a daily basis.)
Again, since racism is so deeply embedded in our culture, we cannot assume that those who benefit from a powerful system of privilege built on race will somehow learn to see or even want to see inequity and institutionalized systems of racism overnight. Yet, what messages do we send to younger human beings when everyone who resides in the neighborhood, attends school and other events, goes to the grocery store, or even attends worship service (which is by the way, the most segregated day of the week) is the same. Harrowing as it might seem (at least I think so), never exposing young folks to difference — any kind of difference — perpetuates the madness of institutionalized racism. However, if we think about it, and we truly want to end racism, then the first step is to recognize that we have a problem.

Read the original article from Diverse Education here: 

New Report Documents Unfair Treatment on the Job for LGBT Workers

Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans support workplace nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals, there is no federal law mandating these protections and less than half of states ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers is a new report which documents the struggles that LGBT workers continue to face on the job. There is still a hiring bias that makes it more difficult for LGBT workers to secure good jobs and they also disproportionately experience unfair firing and on-the-job inequality. Additionally, severe wage disparities and penalties exist making it harder for LGBT workers to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
A Broken Bargain not only looks at the problems LGBT workers face but also delineates solutions and recommendations, so that policymakers and business leaders can take steps to protect all workers. With 58% of LGB workers, and 78% of trans workers reportedly hearing derogatory remarks on the job, fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces must continue to be a priority for all businesses and communities. An executive order prohibiting companies that contract with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, would be a great start for example. As would enacting nondiscrimination laws and policies on the state and local levels.
Today 88% of Fortune 500 companies have policies protecting workers based on sexual orientation and 57% also protect transgender workers. These companies understand that discrimination is not only bad for LGBT workers, but it harms businesses and communities.
A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers is Coauthored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Center for American Progress (CAP), Freedom to Work, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates The report is available online here.

Imagine If Half of All Tech Inventions and Startups Came From Women

by Eliana Dockterman
Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

Frat bros like the Snapchat CEO who say sexist things grow up to run tech companies, where women feel unwelcome.

On Wednesday, emails sent by SnapChat CEO Evan Spiegel to his fraternity brothers about four years ago when he was in college leaked on the Internet. They were filled with misogynistic comments like, “Hope at least six girls sucked your d***s last night,” calling sorority girls “frigid” and planning to feed them as much alcohol as possible.

What do you expect from a frat? It might be easy to dismiss these emails with a “boys will be boys” mentality. Spiegel’s exchanges certainly are not unique among college men in frats. Spiegel apologized. He’s (slightly) older now and maybe sort-of wiser.

But frat bros like Spiegel grow up to become heads of companies that dominate the tech industry like SnapChat. The people creating the apps and devices we use and that shape our society are mostly 20-something males, many of them formerly in frats. And they don’t grow up that fast: Just look at the RapGenius co-founder who was ousted from his company over the weekend after making annotations on alleged UCSB killer Elliot Rodger’s misogynist manifesto that including calling Rodger’s sister “smokin hot.”

Men who have made sexist remarks to a large group are all over the tech landscape, and they deter women from tech. That’s a problem for three reasons: women are the majority of the tech consumers, and we need women engineers to build apps women would actually use; tech companies are more successful when women are helping to manage them; and we don’t have enough computer science grads to fill all the jobs opening up in this sector, so we need to recruit the other 50 percent of the population purely for economic reasons.

Imagine what apps would look like if more women helped develop them. SnapChat was conceived as a sexting app but has turned into a new social media phenomenon, thanks in part to women simply adapting the app to their own needs. A great article in Fast Company tells the story of one all-male development team that built an app for finding babysitters (great idea) but designed it such that women with long fingernails—i.e. a significant number of their potential customers—could not use it.
Titstare is the most notorious example of too much testosterone at a startup. Elissa Shevinsky, CEO of Glimpse Labs, felt uncomfortable when she was forced to watch a pitch for an app called Titstare that allows you to take photos of yourself staring at pictures of breasts at TechCrunch Disrupt. She became angry when her business partner, Pax Dickinson, then took to Twitter to defend the Titstare founders against accusations of misogyny: “It is not misogyny to tell a sexist joke, or to fail to take a woman seriously, or to enjoy boobies.”

After 14 years in the tech world, she decided she’d had enough and wrote a treatise about the sexism in the industry called, “That’s It — I’m Finished Defending Sexism in Tech.”

She points out that sexism isn’t a problem at every company, but it’s bad enough that women have to be picky about where they work. “Sexism isn’t evenly distributed throughout the industry. Some companies are much better (and worse) than others. The experience of at working at a company like The Knot (which is all about weddings) or even at Facebook is going to be different than a young company run with a primarily male workforce like GitHub,” she tells TIME. “Obviously we want to get to a point where women don’t have to make these close examinations to figure out if an environment will be professional.”

If it seems that products like “Titstare” are increasingly out of touch with consumer needs, it’s because a relatively small demographic is coming up with the newest tech ideas.

Studies have shown that startups with diverse teams are more likely to succeed than those run exclusively by men: researchers at the University of Michigan and Cornell University found that companies with more gender diversity delivered better results from IPOs by as much as 30 percent. Another study by the London School of Economics found that women-led startups failed less often than men.

And yet only 20 percent of software developers are women. By contrast, women make up 56 percent of the people in business and finance jobs, 36 percent of doctors and 33 percent of lawyers. As of last spring, Google—which has a better female to male ratio than startups partially because it has an HR department unlike fledgling tech companies—said only a fifth of its engineers are women.

Which brings us to the last problem: we simply need more engineers. “I really do believe that this is the most important domestic issue of our country. Seventy-one percent of the STEM jobs are in computing, and less than 18 percent of computer science degrees are given to women when we make up 56 percent of the labor force. That is an economic disaster, and we are doing nothing to fix it,” Reshma Saugani—founder of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors—told TIME. “In fact we’re emphasizing in the post-Social Network, everyone wants to be Mark Zuckerberg world, we’re emphasizing even more to young girls that this world is not for you.”

Of the women who do join the tech field, 56 percent leave mid-career, according to Harvard Business School research. A third of the women who leave move to non-tech jobs—jobs where the climate is more welcoming to women.

“I’ve been harassed, I’ve had people make suggestive comments to me, I’ve had people basically dismiss my expertise,” Ashe Dryden, a programmer who now consults on diversity in technology, told the New York Times. “I’ve gotten rape and death threats just for speaking out about this stuff.”

Even women who endure this harassment or are lucky enough to avoid it, must fight to be taken seriously simply because of their gender. Researchers at Wharton, Harvard and MIT found that when they played investors two recordings of the exact same sales pitch—one read by a man, another read by a woman—the investors preferred the idea when read by a man’s voice two to one. This “boys club” atmosphere bars women from success.

Spiegel’s emails matter because they represent a greater problem in Silicon Valley: few women will want to work with men like Spiegel when they could go somewhere else.

Read the original article from TIME here: 

Healing Ageism in the LGBT Community

by Jesse Brune
Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

The idea for "Ask the Elders" came when a colleague told me about a women's retreat she attended through her spiritual center. One evening, the reverend's wife, who was leading the retreat, brought all the grandmas to the front of the main hall and addressed the group by saying,
"Ladies, you have questions and these women have answers."
An intimate Q&A unfolded as the elders offered guidance on topics like how to move through menopause with grace, how to handle a child suffering from drug addiction, and how to recover from a painful divorce. "It was the coolest thing on that retreat," my colleague shared, "Why don't we do the same thing for the LGBT community?"
I'm the spiritual director of Project: Service L.A., a non-profit spiritual community for LGBT's that meets weekly in a bar in West Hollywood. I'm always looking for fresh ways to engage our community and I loved the idea of working with LGBT elders but there was a problem, I didn't know any gay seniors. This was the first time I was introduced to my social irresponsibility. Why didn't I know any older gay people? The myth that all elderly LGBT's move to Palm Springs until they die couldn't actually be true. I've spent thousands of dollars on life coaches, shrinks, gurus, and yoga retreats; why didn't I ever think to just reach out to someone in my own community that's already walked the road? I'm too liberal and open-minded to be an ageist... aren't I?
My co-founder and I did some research and discovered the "The Gay Elder Circle", a local non-profit consisting of LGBT activists of a certain age headed by Dr. Don Kilhefner, a legendary activist and community leader known for his brilliance and bite. The members of this organization are men and women who are still active in the community and working to see that we continue to move forward while harvesting the wisdom of our past. We pitched the idea for "Ask the Elders" and they bit. They were interested in having a multi-generational dialogue and we were interested in hosting a Q&A so we could hear the perspective of LGBT trail-blazers.
Working with the elders was a crash course in community leadership. There wasn't much tolerance for flakiness and if I wanted to be heard I was going to have to stand my ground. I was working with men and women that rioted after the Stonewall raid and walked in the first pride march. They were the first activists to petition, protest, and pass legislation to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians. They were the faces of the Gay Liberation Front, the founders of activist groups with names like "The Radical Fairies", and survived thousands of friends and colleagues that died in the AIDS epidemic. They've been there, they've done that and they've survived to tell us about it. So why aren't we listening?
In many tribal cultures elders are considered a valued commodity; the mentors and guides for the adults. "Ask the Elders" became an experiment to see if L.A.'s LGBTQI community had the capacity to align with similar ideals. Instead of rejecting or avoiding the seniors in our community could we see them, honor them, and apply the teachings they offered us? Could our experiment extend the shelf-life of the gay adult?
Since our first gathering in 2012 there have been several "Ask the Elders" events throughout the Los Angeles area. Having a room full of diversity is refreshing, the participants are multicultural gay, lesbian, and transgender people that have come together to learn something new and get insight on situations that feel too perplexing to decode. Popular areas of discussions are marriage equality, racism in the gay community, sex and monogamy, and the evolving role of LGBT's in a new America. We even hosted an event for the gender studies program at Cal State LA and let college students (of all sexual identities) ask the elders questions about coming out, breaking up, and healing gay-shame.
I'd like to share just a few take-aways from my time with the elders. Some of these gems are things they've shared and others are just my observations. You might disagree with some of these and that's totally great, in productive dialogue there can be more than one idea expressed.
My take-aways:
  • According to the Gay Elder Circle there's a difference between an elder and an older. An elder is someone who remains active in the community as a mentor, activist, or volunteer; offering wisdom and insight when necessary. An older is simply someone who's older.
  • Just because you're old, doesn't mean you're wise. (That one's mine.)
  • A romantic relationship will never, EVER save you.
  • Across the board the elder's agree that it's criminal to charge so much for a college education.
  • In order for the community to continue to evolve we must create opportunities to mentor one another. The elders should mentor the adults and the adults should mentor the youth.
  • Country line dancing is not only fun but it's a great way to get some cardio vascular exercise.
  • Sex evolves with age... but don't worry, it's still happening in your seventies.
  • "They" want us to stay distracted. Make sure you're paying attention and voting.
  • Don't ever be afraid to say "NO, that's not okay and we won't stand for it."
  • There should be a much stronger emphasis on inner-development. Technology, though necessary can stifle your mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. In other words, "put down your smart phone and read a book, engage in meaningful conversations, and take a walk in the park... without headphones on."
This just scratches the surface of the pool of knowledge, humor, and ideas the elders have given me. Please tap into a vital resource and reach out to the elders in your community. Developing these relationships not only has the potential to expand our collective perspective, it offers the possibility of a future rich with wisdom.
To learn more about L.A's "Gay Elder Circle" visit their website check out what we're doing at Project: Service L.A. here:

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do You Agree with TIME, That the Push for Transgender Rights Is ‘America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier’?

by Norvell Rose
Originally Published: May 29th, 2014

Do You Agree with TIME, That the Push for Transgender Rights Is ‘America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier’?
Billing itself as “the world’s most trusted source for news”, TIME magazine now wants you to “trust” that the push for equal rights for transgendered people is, as their new cover proclaims, “America’s next civil rights frontier.”

Clearly, TIME is trying to be both culturally relevant and commercially provocative. It’s bold proclamation on the cover is accompanied by a full-body photo of the latest celebrity entrant in the transgender hit parade.

Laverne Cox, who stars in the Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black, is the cover “girl” for the latest issue of TIME. At a recent rally in (where else?) San Francisco, Ms. Cox told an enthusiastic crowd of colorful supporters:

“I stand before you this evening, a proud, African-American transgender woman.”

So, is the next REAL frontier for die-hard progressives the horizon of a brave new world where gender, sexual identity, even sex itself are irrelevant relics of a consciousness-limited past?

Read the original article from Liberty News here: