The Glass Walls of Tech

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The Glass Walls of Tech
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thought and this is due but this is a this is so if so it seems I have the distinct pleasure
this morning to introduce our 3rd keynote speaker Janice Levin Higgins Feeley Dennis is the founder and CEO of chick tech which is a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and women in the technology industry in creating a more inclusive technology culture and we know that here agenda con we are all about inclusivity this is not the 1st he know that we found about this topic and a thought that all the 1st other non keynote talk that we have at this conference about that holds a BS in Computer Engineering and an MBA and her passion lies in creating change to improve women's lies To that end she founded chicks tack in 2012 based on her experiences as a woman in technology and is driven to provide a more positive experience in the technology industry for others so please help me welcome gender the that never hearing OK and that means everyone it's great to meet you all and good morning before we get started I would like to have each of you for 2 minutes introduce yourself to someone you haven't talked to yet and tell them how you got into technology specifically who was most influential in your life I'd love to hear who has an interesting story about how they got into the fact that they just told somebody else that means that I have I tell you so what is I 9 is all the friend of my mom's I gave me a apple of Mac 512 again of was Apple amount but then the had a scuzzy written sitting at the back of it have that's of 40 megabyte hard drive Anderson playing with it and here we are today nice the who else I think the college the risk because in the paper math course a program requires that in order to political science and 1 hat awesome OK 1 more was TI calculators you can programmed in some of it nice yes you can do that is very true so my talk today is
about the glass walls of technology and why we haven't been making as much progress at bringing more people especially diverse people into technology so when I say the glass wall the technology you what do you think of if the glass ceiling right what else why you think is building those walls what is when different kinds of things are keeping people out the the status quo time money education is yeah stereotypes sexism was the in fact yeah but not so healthy culture and yes so basically the glass walls are a lot like the glass ceiling that keeping certain people out there allowing certain people in and it's not that great for anybody and I know it's not that great for the industry and the interesting thing about both is that if you're not 1 of the groups it's being kept out it's very hard to see as well the so today
what I'm going to be talking to you about is 1st I'm going to talk about my organization check that I'm going to tell you that you can origin story I'm going to talk about my life and how different things in my life made me decide to starch at that and as some interesting things that I I got out of that I'm also going to be talking about the top 3 issues that I think are holding us back for making more progress on the diversity issue have I have 3 different activities I'm hoping will be able to get to all 3 of them today because they are somewhat build on each other and then if we have some time after words will have so I will be able to do some Q and so check that is my
favorite subjects and not just because I'm the world's foremost expert on it luckily for you there's a time limit to this talk solve only be giving you a very quick rundown have like I said they'll be time in the Q and a if you have more an in-depth questions I'm happy to answer them again I do know literally everything about check check if there's not something I don't know I actually make it up and then make it through the I'm also planning on being around afterwards so that you can add connectedness and we we have a half hour break after the after the keynote and I'm happy to have more and more discussion so to attack is applied when the 3 where a national nonprofit our mission put simply is to get and keep girls and women and high-tech we've been operating for about 4 and a half years we are in 13 cities actually including Toronto I keep saying national that someday once we get all the paperwork in order of evil officially say international I We have thousands of volunteers across I I this we
have 2 sides to our mission as as you heard we have a pipeline side were trying to get more girls and women into technologies and we have the retention side where we're trying to keep the women who were in technology in technology and the pipeline side we've been really focusing so far on the k through 12 aspects we've been branching out into elementary and middle school camps in the summer but our signature program is our year-long high school program we bring in 100 high-school girls specifically focusing on girls who aren't yet engaged in technology but let the to do well and get them excited about technology and thinking about themselves as technical we do monthly workshops for these girls are cool with the workshops is to expand the idea of what a technology career looks like so rather than just do coding or rather than just do robotics we do those plus drones plus Internet of Things clustering energy at plus film-making and they get really are creative up on what they want to do in each chapter which is really exciting but we also do a one-on-one mentoring program for our participants were we the parents are girls with that men and women in the industry who can help them to look at the different options and understand where they might be able to fit into that on the retention side we run events through me in a little over half of our cities and we ran a conference called act w which stands for advancing the areas of technical women Our goal with all of our events and programs is not just to educate but to create community provide a sense of belonging and create opportunities for women and girls to get together and learn together we also do consulting culture consulting for technologies were looking to be have become more inclusive this is a map
of the United States it's also a map of all 13 of our chapters as so check this out if you're in 1 of the cities definitely feel free connect Our goal is actually to be in 24 different cities by this time next year and we're always looking for diverse volunteers to help us create those chapters leave those chapters run workshops in those chapters are goal is to have all of the volunteers reflect how we want the world to look so we want everyone regardless of race regardless of gender regardless of background working together to solve problems rather than having this just be a women's issue that women solved this account but that that i if you if you look at our website you'll see eye to take that works less locations and then you might be a little confused because I believe we only have the and the hand of the chapters out there right now that we have 3 new we Brennan chapters and they're they're not allowed to have their locations up until they get their website up to date like it can't be talking about other cities stellar system
so there are a lot of different ways even involved in check have volunteering is a big 1 we're almost completely volunteer-run at this point all of the chapters are volunteer-run I'm actually the only full-time employees and but we're trying to work on that as you can see we have a program director position open and again that is open to everyone we do not discriminate based on gender because that would be can the material what we're trying to do I we're looking for not just technical volunteers all the technical knowledge is a very important if you have skills in project management program management marketing fund-raising I just hoping to inspire people and get them excited about the mission definitely let us know as you saw the if you as a sign
here any e-mail for the locations is basically city name ejected catalogs of here in Atlanta at that when I checked that or feel free to reach out to them and that the way help
they're looking for and also what funding of course as a nonprofit most of our donations at this point come from corporations and individuals especially to surrender local programs I were also looking for hosts so if you're working in a company that has a space and you love having people come into the space spaces and we need to have I we need space for both the high school events and our 4 events so now of course you're clearly wondering how such an amazing and glorious organization came to be added so check that is based on my experiences and the barriers that i ran into as I was growing up and as a young woman doing computer engineering and in college it's basically what I wish I had had it at both of those times this is where I grew up in this is the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin and yes we did have a dairy farm and we lived about 15 miles out how 1 which was the thriving metropolis of Medford Wisconsin we have big currently actually have just over 20 200 people there and we actually live closer to a town of 500 metaphor is actually where I went to where I went to high school and as dairy farmers have especially independent dairy farmers we were on the verge of bankruptcy almost the entire time and had between that and living in a really rural area that there were very very few opportunities for me to get involved in I even just living so far out and having my parents and I so busy working on the farms just driving back and forth was almost too much to ask I still remember I'm getting these new shiny brochures about the summer camps for I for gifted you that they were inviting me to and I almost any man talk about with my parents because I knew it wasn't going to be possible even though they offered scholarships we still when people to pay for the plane ticket and my parents wouldn't be able to deal with the farm without me there so this
is 1 of the 1 of the lessons that I learned and growing up is that even small things can get in the way of your success of trying new things and my experience has helped me to create a program that works to lower those barriers and opened the door in the glass wall to use that might otherwise not be able to join our chicken high school program is free we provide all meals that we possibly can we feed them a lot I really liked it and to we provide childcare siphons 14 parents we provide transportation help as needed so we the pick up the girls at the school or we provide transit passes as that we sense to them in advance because the girls that we really want a region the girls that can really do something with the programs that were offering I had to that a 5 dollar transit pass may be a barrier that they're not able to get over In 2001 I graduated
from high school and somewhere around there there was a tech boom and then check that tech bust I was not aware of it at the time and being in a rural public school and we were not necessarily on the cutting edge of technology in any way shape or form and I had no programming experience until I started my 1st but not my last C programming class in college as a teenager you can go through your teen years completely oblivious you're basically L. course now we have the internet and I I understand that but I have a lot of what you're exposed to is what adult the adult around you expose you to so if you don't know to search for something on the internet or you don't know that something's interesting you're still not going to find it right and the same thing like if you have a library books you can go and you can browse that library but if you only have Amazon in use of search box and you don't want to search for the chances of you finding things that are outside what you've been exposed to are much slower all goal which attack is to expose the girls in our program to opportunities that they haven't got try yet we work with high schools and we get high school teachers to nominate girls to our program again specifically focusing on the girls they wouldn't usually nominate to a technology program but who they feel have an opportunity to succeed in it because of the unusual suspects the girls who are choosing to opt in I'm going to look at our program In usually and say will have oblivious we managed to avoid all of the technology programs I'm going to magically choose this 1 now right and and so we provide an encouragement through as through our relationships with the teachers because it's always really don't matter how old you are you can be 60 and if your nominated for something you still feel pretty special right it's not it's not a thing that just that just teenagers that the
so if the assuming you all remember how it felt to be you know sort Morrison juniors and seniors freaking out about what you're going to do with your life right and also I have a teenage son something I don't really talk about this but I was actually a teen parent I had my son when I was 16 and then he got me addicted I funny and that's both wonderful and really terrible so I actually found this 1 like 5 days ago and I say that's my phone just in case they want to use as so by now you're probably wondering how did I end up in technology when all the signs pointed to me not going in and so it was actually a pretty random comment by my grandma I was talking on the phone with her 1 time and she's like you know you're pretty good engineering but so you pretty good at math but you try engineering and I was like 0 0 I had never thought of that and she probably doesn't even remember thing that comment because as an adult you say random things and make sense of the time they're not important to you to a teenager especially when you're freaking out and having no idea because you think you're supposed to choose a career and stick with it for the rest your life those kinds of comments can change your hat the
so 1 of the things that we see with our eye are participants especially the more at risk youth that we serve is that they don't have a lot of adult men tossed and we really make it part of our mission to provide those both formally and informally we work to have a student to volunteer ratio of three-to-one because we want every young woman in our program to have the opportunity to talk to as many people in technology is possible because you don't know when 1 per cent at that girl made really identify with really look up to you will say that 1 random thing that puts them on this amazing that so I said college this summer that I graduated from high school and so I knew very little about technology I didn't know anything about what programming was or even really what it was used for I had red light remembering guidance counselors a career counselors offices they had like these books and they have like 1 page on each career anyway so that's why I had read about computer engineering when I chose so that all I knew I I knew so little about technology and engineering that I didn't realize until I started that I didn't belong as 1 I had no idea that that gender gap existed so my electrical in computer engineering department head 8 per cent of women at the time I think they've actually gone down a little bit in the last 10 years ago during 2006 I looked around at all the pretty much all guys and they all seem so confidence they had been programming for a much longer than I had which was in 0 so it was really that hard of but I knew that I didn't feel confident and the way that they were solving problems are looking at problems were different than I wanted to solve them and I just assumed that how they were trying to solve the problems must be the right way because they they seem so sure of what they were doing and and the classes were done in a way that wasn't really conducive to my learning for me personally I have to know the big picture I need to know what the entire system does and how the parts work together before I learned the step by step instructions on how to build this particular module and how they teach engineering is to learn step by step how to create this little model and then you move to the next little model and then you 1 step by step how to create that and without that big umbrella of knowledge over how all of that work together that was the last man and still got a really good grades but I don't have had so I don't have the knowledge that I feel like I would have had otherwise and that was very stressful to me so it felt like I wasn't as good at it as what other people even though was really just how things were taught on top of all that if a like everyone was watching and waiting for me to make a mistake to show that women didn't actually belong in engineering it's amazing how old important in that sense of belonging is to all of us it really drives our lives and we don't notice it until we don't have it and that's a very uncomfortable and stressful feeling so there's different ways that we search for that community in that sense of belonging they can be negative where kids tease others to try to fit in 4 games people are willing to literally kill to get that sense of belonging or the community and sensible line can be found in really positive weights and that's obviously what we're trying to create the tic-tac less killing more communities the that's and I was really working to create a and empowering and supportive community that can help combat the discouragement and negativity that the women and girls who are going into technology you're looking to go into technology it maybe I may be dealing with I so I'd like to say that that's all a sudden where I created check that but that would make her way to clean and of a story so what actually happened was that I gave in to my impostor syndrome I've been dealing with some sexual harassment discrimination issues in the technology industry during college and during my internships and I chose to leave technology instead I went back and I got my MBA and then I worked for what we will fondly called the worst company every I the end that company it showed me at the uh at great and useful facts that technology is not actually the worst place for sexual harassment from so that's I guess there and the high hand quitting and I did consulting for a year so and then I ended up volunteering at a program that was working to get more minority youth into technology and I left that experience really excited about the idea is that I came up with uh how to get more girls into technology as well and I use those ideas to create checked that that was late 2011 when I started talking a lot about it which is how I started things and then in 2012 I managed to get a group of volunteers and we had started planning for a 1st event which was January 2013 with 99 girls in Portland I I do really miss coding that's us something I really enjoyed especially embedded programming being able to code something over here and have a change something over here was pretty awesome on but I really like being able to open the doors to technology to those people who were running into that glass wall so let's briefly look at why that organizations like JIT tech exists the here is the state of the industry and to statistics and the pipeline 18 % of computer science majors are women and in retention we lose 56 % of computer science women but finding career this is not a problem for a while right that
we know a lot of us know that the number or percentage of women in computer science peaked in about 87 and 88 and at 37 per cent and it's been going down since then we have a lot of organizations working on this why is this problem of fault right seems like we should just get more women and then not get rid of them and then it will magically all be fixed right now so I have 3 different main reasons that I believe but this is showing that progress has been that progress has been slower than we would really like to see 1 is and this is a pretty big 1 as the root of the problem is a global societal issue that has nothing to do with technology to a majority of people still don't see gender equity as an issue in technology and 3 people have a hard time taking responsibility for the part so let's break down the idea that this is not attackers you were going to start at a micro level and then go to a more global so 1 we
see this issue in way in more places than just technology but this is an interesting phenomena that I had not heard of but I appreciated that it used the word glass as they would fit very nicely into my talk on so the glass escalator the glass escalator is a phenomenon where men who were in women dominated fields get paid more than the women coworker their women co-workers and get promoted more quickly you can look at that need to be like a monster affair in others not really many of them you know bit hospitals are probably looking for a as for diversity as well you know it's just supply and demand right except that we don't see that in male-dominated careers for women and if you look at construction women construction workers are paid more if you look at Tech female tech workers are also not paid more we still have the wage gap and and if you look at all of the data what we actually have is an implicit bias that values immense contributions over women's contributions pretty much across the board I have not found an exception in this and it's really interesting because you look at nursing and you think wow that should be no in our stereotype of a perfect an elite perfect hospital nurse you look at you look at them and you think OK this is definitely going to be a woman right are stereotypes as women are caregivers women are nurtures there so empathetic that's who I want care of mean and if that's true In a career like nursing where we have those really strong stereotypes How much harder is it in some more than like somewhere in technology were we had the stereotype that's not how women's brains work and as another example of women represent 53 per cent of new hires and then basically get funneled out of be going up the latter i until we get 5 having only 5 per cent of CEOs be women in the Fortune 500 the it's also bigger than
just business and when we look at the state legislator wait state legislation but in the US 51 per cent of the population is women and 20 per cent of the population is women of color but when you look at our legislators only 25 per cent of legislators are women and only 5 per cent are women of color that means that women do not have a representative say on issues that affect their lives yeah the so we know we have
a problem globally when this map exists the fact that we have having map that shows us where women are most threatened and least threatens in terms of physical safety of really shows this is not just a technical issue that technology issue attitudes towards women across the globe place women and second-class citizens status that educated last paid less have fewer opportunities and in general are just not valued as humans as much as men are we live in a world where women are basically sold to older men in marriage as children where there are places that women are not allowed to drive and the places where women are allowed to show their faces in public that tells me that women being treated and paid less than men in technology is not just an isolated incident so I'm not
telling you all this to discourage you and tell you that whatever you're doing in technology is not worth it and my goal is really show you that when you're looking for a root causes if you only look in technology and processes and procedures in the tech industry you're going to miss the main root causes and it's going to make it harder for you to have an impact so just remember technology does not exist in a bubble and our society supersedes all balance between art between these different industries and are communities and our and we have are communities in our society will always affects your industry no matter what it is and
sorry and so issue number 2 people still aren't seeing the issue there was a study that came out in March that showed that 66 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women in the technology industry believe men and women have equal opportunities and technology despite all evidence and anecdotes to the contrary the I was actually it sounds kind of weird and kind of excited about this the statistics because I had been talking for a while about this sense that I got that we had the silent majority of people that are making it so much harder for us to create change is not the bad people they just don't believe there's an issue and so they're not holding us back into the stone ages but they're they're anchoring down and making it harder to make change so part of this
issue is the meritocracy met meritocracy methods vary inviting right we all want to believe that we got to where we're at because of how great we are as people right or how how talented we are and a lot of that's true right we all have helped him we all have family members or mentalist who helped us along the way and that's great the problem is is the inequality in who gets those men and who gets that help in who has somebody showing them the way to that door in that last wall for the we have all these people who were different than the norm for different in technology or different than the stereotype who were still outside that glass wall and they can't find their way in to compete on a level playing field they may have more qualifications they may have the same qualifications but those are viewed as less because of unconscious bias and the overall and treating technology it like a meritocracy keeps people on the out using keeps the 1st people on the outside and that makes for a lasting great workplace not as great a product and not the society that we want Char
this is kind of a hard 1 right because the mentality this is someone else's problem is really pervasive and a lot of it's because we just don't know how to fix it right it's a really complex issue in that issue that goes back so that's the dawn of time in terms of gender and inequity and we only have so much emotional bond with right I actually book and has been put on the slide but it's found the life-changing magic of not giving a you know who think that because we really can only care about so many things before we get emotionally overwhelmed and not able to effect change in anything and however regardless of how much emotional energy you feel that you have or don't have to fight for gender equity remember that your actions are what bills or pull down that last wall every day for others unconscious bias is a very real thing and if you don't work to control it it will control your actions and have real consequences for those around you it may be the system it may be a society but those are are not static things created by someone else there created by us and us includes everyone in this room that was taken an implicit bias test online to Harvard or whatever thank you and who's doesn't pay impossibilism unconscious bias training in person anybody a couple for I so that's great I strongly encourage I all of you to do
so and planning and sending out the slides later so feel free to grab links server our and look for them on the internet and the the links right there so implicit bias i is very importance in terms of looking at how we can improve our and how we can improve our our workplace and in general our society part it's a taking the implicit bias fast and looking for looking for different trainings of learning more are really important and essential 1st steps it will help you to set yourself up for examining our thinking and understanding how that might be playing into your life so that you can start by changing and and in general being able to create change once you take it don't stop there what they've actually found is that people who take an implicit bias tested you just a 1 hour unconscious bias training are actually less likely to make a change because they think that since everybody has it and it's something that they can control they don't have to change and that's not true just 1
person choosing to stand up in the company or at a conference for in the neighborhood will create change you may not change the world but you may change the world for 1 person and in doing so you can start breaking down your part of that last fall OK so this is the 1st
activity and we're going to be looking at stereotypes intact and and in general in your life I'd like to have all of you get together in groups of 3 or 4 depending on what works out best for your area and take about 5 7 minutes to talk about what stereotypes you see in technology and business and how do you think that these are negatively affecting people and the business of or tech industry so does anyone have any interest in stereotypes that may not have been typical ones that people thought about are there other people may have thought about that you'd like to share In guy that that were apparently keeping this anonymous without this this so I have the the 1 0 it was log ageism and intact so like all the others lot companies and so Kon and technique industry that think that is young people or smarter better and it possible wanna hire people who are older because maybe you send away in sort of not culture that so I think that's that's something come in purple and the the watch out for him yeah definitely I I was reading something that said that you basically our over the hill in technology once you reach 30 which is this the end of the day we have several people or not all right now of how so my current company which I actually like a lot despite this complaint from a lot of folks were there when I was richly hired by begin the sports and going out drinking and they would just get lasted only a lot and that's that's not my thing and they were really into board games RPG user you know it from the spirit of course the key things that home and think a lot of people who showed up working at least until around and its effect the been quite nice as more people come on to the company being able to find people who were the so I realized on in in the complaint and that a lot of really were no sports grows and again at that's but the converse of that I actually uh as adeptly programmer culture is a thing but 0 so the stereotype that being nerdy makes you a better programmer J don't think it does and a very yes 0 1 that we discussed was around paternity maternity leave and the assumptions that thank you so mother is going to want to stay home or the father is going to be useless during that time therefore should NGOs maternity leave or just everything in our culture around what happens when you have a child yeah definitely 1 more the but losing about uh when you respected as a programmer to work you know code at your job but if you're really injured if you're 1 of top program you also have the outside projects related to coding mean you can have always sensitive of it you're really good program chapter great OK thanks everyone for doing not exercise by our next is
around micro affirmations have have anyone has anyone heard of Mike reformations are micro-inequities or my progression they're pretty good majority of you so Mike affirmations so it's in general iconic people heard of micro impressions but possibly not like reformation so my progressions were micro-inequities are often subconscious things that you're doing to tell other people that they're not as valuable or not is not worth as much boring that they don't belong to you and realize that you're doing it on like affirmations are a way that you can I change how you're behaving but not through policing yourself until you can't do anything or anyone but rather changing it by doing something really positive so what I'd like to have you all do probably the same groups feel freer mix it up if you really want to have and it is look at some of these uh the interesting situations where negative stereotypes might come into play and say you had the opportunity you're standing in the the line at the grocery store or a year at a technique that for your that you know helping you work in progress a I don't know but but could what you you have the opportunity to engage in a really brief conversation that with these people and what how could you give them Mike reformation that acknowledge their value or accomplishments or there an ability to belong as no right rightfully in that group and promote feelings of inclusion and caring and then how can you use this concept in your workplace to fight the stereotypes such as what we just talked about in the last exercise it thank you we are almost out of time but I'd like to hear from this to people really quick on it it's in your group there was a really interesting Mike reformation and for how you might want to use that in the workplace we we subsidize this the you all and so that and few 1 thing that that work our group but the comprised of multiple of these is if you see someone enough now and stew tuple situation right easier on our restore woman at a meter don't ask if you could help them but ask what do you do with the way Oh what perjury working owner 40 buildings that the help you with that the so I don't think we have enough time
to do that to be number 3 but I'd love for everyone to think about this and uh you know just in general keep in mind what you learned today and see what kinds of just little changes you know even those little like preparations if he could be 1 of those that they have to help people feel more welcome that would be a pretty big change especially for that person received that I do have some other interesting resources a couple different terms misrepresentation has anyone heard of this film has anybody watched it yet it's a really good it's also really angering have but is in a good light writers way I think I did so keep that in mind it's on netflix as everything should be out but that will definitely change the way you look at our media and how women and girls are portrayed in it and especially if you have children of the girl variety you'll want to watch this because you'll be the things that you'll need to counteract as as parents and this
is the last thing that I would like to leave you always I let us make our future now and let us make our dreams tomorrow reality this is actually on the back of our last years to get teachers with of been media and a chief is you thanks
the so