Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Impact of Corona on Women in Tech

The impact of Corona is effecting everyone differently.  For many of the women in tech, working from home is something we are very familiar with.  However, pile on top of that those who now have their children home 24/7 who are also homeschooling, upgraded to honorary "lunch lady" making multiple meals and snacks a day, and cleaning- what feels endlessly, I was intrigued to survey other women in the channel to see if I was alone?  The results were surprising, check it out...

Monday, February 3, 2020

Perspective on the “Provocative” Super Bowl Halftime Show

Here’s my take:

I am a women, a mother to girls, daughter and granddaughter to two of the strongest independent women I know. I am ethnically mixed. I am a lifelong dancer, and lover of performing arts. I am a feminist. I am a world traveler and citizen of the earth - embracing our differences: cultures, languages, food, music, garbs, opinions.

I understand our world view is merely a reflection of our own personal lenses -our upbringing, our nature and nurture, our religion, what we are taught who we surround ourselves with, our political preferences, our religious preferences, our cultural preferences.  I respect that each and everyone of us can have an opinion on something and respectfully disagree based upon those same preferences.

I am proud to live in a country where women cannot only dress a certain way, speak a certain way but make millions of dollars for owning their talent, their sexuality without fear of repression, repercussion or violence.

I am proud to watch two beautiful, empowered, successful, mature, strong, minority Latina women like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira with incredible athleticism and talent, get on stage and dance like nobody has ever seen before (whether you liked it or not).  To dance so freely without fear of repercussion death, stoning, acid wash, hangings,  or any of the other things that occur in many parts of the world. That is what makes America so great.  We can be uniquely ourselves, have our own beliefs, wear what we like, dress how we like and *respect* (hopefully) each other’s differences.

I am shocked to see people not physically harm but socially shame these women - proclaiming that they are the problem with the objectifying of women and allows men to want to rape women. That is never OK that is never justified.. Regardless of how a women dresses or dances, men and boys are never allowed to think a rape culture is okay. Women owning their own sexuality is not your excuse to take and make it your own, or shame them.

You see the problem with saying their performance did not hold up to “family values” is the sad and very wrong assumption that all family values look the same, or more incorrectly- look like yours, and that just couldn’t be further from the truth in a multi cultural melting pot.

I can assure you this is an argument which runs with a spectrum of opinions and no one is “right” or “wrong” because it’s all based upon your opinion, your lens.

I have had the great fortune to travel around the world and visit 92 countries in various cultures. I can affirm that everywhere in the world people are very similar and yet very different. Beauty is defined differently, their weight, their skin, their garb, the way they move, the way they look, the way they feel comfort or shame in their bodies or how others make them feel is really very different.

In some parts of the world women are topless, nudity is common, and the human body- specifically the women’s body is beautiful and not shamed.   In other parts of the world, women are expected to dress and act conservatively, some only show their eyes to anyone other than their husbands. Some people  judge both, or find themselves “conservative” while those more conservative would perceive them as not even close and dare I say hypocritical?

The answer in my opinion is there is no right or wrong - how can there be with so many beautiful differences? To say someone else is wrong, is assuming you are right- and demeaning their culture and assuming yours is better... I would never dare say such a thing.  Especially in America, a land founded by immigrants from around the world who brought various cultures and traditions from all around the world 🌎 .

So where you are a demure geisha in Japan 🇯🇵 , a Carnival dancer in Rio Brazil 🇧🇷 , a traditional Mexican dancer 🇲🇽 , a proud Muslim in Hijab 🧕 in Iran 🇮🇷 , A tattood face female New Zealander 🇳🇿 , an indigenous Amazonian Rain Forrest mother in Peru 🇵🇪 , a beautiful curvy belly dancer in Turkey 🇹🇷 etc. Or two beautiful Latinas firing up the SuperBowl stage in record breaking history- there is no shame, you are beautiful!  Whether you Pierced, or not, tattood or not, skinny or not, whatever your religion, whatever your race, color, or beliefs- to me, you are beautiful, I respect you, no matter what you do or believe.

There is no shame women are beautiful -always beautiful- regardless of their culture or their beliefs.  If a woman wants to publicly express her sexuality (as so many men do and we never debate in a continuing senseless double standard), that is fine with me if a woman wants to remain fully covered, that is fine with me too.  I can live with accept that beauty comes in many forms and my world lens is not necessarily the only world lens or the right world lens to depict what others should or should not do.  We are all entitled to our opinions, and for me, that means I celebrate women- all of you! Always.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The conscious and unconscious bias surrounding Women and Diversity in Tech

I have proudly worked in Technology for the past 15+ years.  I am a multi cultural women, child of immigrant grandparents, raised by a single mom.  Some might say, the odds were against me... yet, I was the very the first in my family to go to College or work in Tech.  I worked for Global IT leader Cisco for 13 years, was Senior Director of Office Depot Tech Services, and am currently VP of JS Group Consulting.  I was humbled and delighted to become Chairman of CompTIA's Advancing Women in Technology Group, Board Member of CRN Women of the Channel and named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the 4 Role Models Who Inspire Girls to Pursue Tech Careers. So understandable, I am extremely passionate about the topic of women and diversity in tech and leadership and have traveled around the country giving countless speeches on this very topic.  

Tonight, my husband Jay McBain, principal analyst at Forrester and huge advocate for Women in Tech, posted a thoughtful question on social media.  He asked what I objectively thought was a very valid question why do the top tech companies have so few women in leadership...  "why out of 59 slots [he researched], only 4 were women [in executive leadership positions]". He went on to say, "Mountains of research show that diverse leadership teams drive 14% more revenue and 19% more profit #womenintech #glassceiling".  A fairly just question, which is not just true of the companies he mentioned by numerous top tech companies exemplified in the graphic below.

The slide represents the breakdown of company, by women & nationalities shown in legend (example represents Nvidia)

Imagine my shock and awe when I saw the very real conscious and unconscious bias which exists in the comments of his posts about a shortage of women in tech leadership, and the very real advantages which have been statistically proven in countless reputable and documented cases.  The comments included the following, and apologize for any vulgar language but I thought it was critical to read in the raw and candid format they shared their opinions.
  • "Don't Care...assuming people are passed up because they lack a penis is nothing that I have any grounds to suspect"
  • "Are women not applying?"
  • "Maybe they didn't have candidates that didn't look hard enough
  • "This is just another way to try and get affirmative action"
  • "Profits don't give a damm whats between someones legs"
  • "Preaching diversity, for the sake of diversity is why businesses fail" 
  • "Sex is a stupid qualifier for identifying quality candidates"
  • "There's no way to validate increased revenue profit"
  • "The argument is ridiculous"
  • "How do you know some of these men are actually women"
  • "Ive been raped by this post"
  • "Fake news"
  • "We should give folks because of their genitalia is dumb as sh.t"
  • "Meh, most women have different priorities... I don't think this is something to be concerned about"
  • "Women go where they want to go, there is no dark force preventing them from these positions"
  • "Why is this PC crap creeping into this forum?"
  • "I am not sure why we need to be concerned"
  • "I get that you are calling the IT industry sexist without actually saying it. There are now a lot more women in tech than before, it’s going to take time for them to get the experience to become executive board members. Patience youngling….. Allow them time to grow, learn and manage. Pushing any person in to a position of responsibility before they are ready is just setting them up for failure. Then they get fired and hurt everyone in the company they work for"
  • "Women are not good in IT leadership, some exceptions, but most are just not good for leadership


Excuse me for a second while I pick my jaw up off the floor.... WHAT ON EARTH?!?!

So let me take my anger, frustration and disappointment out of this while we speak FACTS (and pictures):
  • There are more men named John leading major companies than women leading companies- NY Times

  • Only 11% of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies are held by women and, only 5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women- Fast Company
  • Only 25% of computing jobs are held by women. This is a number that has been on a steady decline for years. Dream Hosts, "State of Women In Tech".  

  • The turnover rate is more than twice as high for women than it is for men in tech industry jobs (41% vs. 17%).
    • 56% of women in tech are leaving their employers mid-career. Of the women who leave:
    • 24% off-ramp and take a non-technical job in a different company
    • 22% become self-employed in a tech field
    • 20% take time out of the workforce
    • 10% go to work with a startup company

    • From 1980 to 2010, 88 percent of all IT patents were by male-only invention teams, while 2% were by female-only invention teams-

    • 12% of engineers at Silicon Valley startups are women- Observer

    • Only 7% of partners at top 100 venture capital firms, and their growth is delayed- Forbes
    • More than 30% of women over the age of 35 are still in junior positions.  In fact women are far more likely to be in junior positions than men — regardless of age per TechJury

    • 73% of women say they have experienced negative outcomes in their career attributed to being a woman - University of Cambridge

    • 37% of women say a they have been excluded from networking opportunities. -

    We all know networking opportunities, mentorship and sponsorship is a critical component of job promotion.  Many leaders have a bench of viable candidates on deck to succeed them when they advance or move on from their current role.  Unfortunately  according to Forbes, 60% of Male Managers say they are uncomfortable In Job-Related Activities With Women (up from 42% last year).  Reasons stated included the following justifications:
    1. Fear of Sexual Harassment
    2. Fear of misinterpretation of friendliness
    3. Concern about what everyone else thinks
    4. Concern about a spouse's or partner's feelings
    5. Birds of a feather flock together 

    So with increasing limitations and fear, how can women be mentored and coached to be considered for those leadership positions? 

    I would be remiss to not cover the other side of that coin, that #MeToo movement is not just a theory.  When asked by PEW Research Center, 57% of women say a they have experienced unwanted advances from colleagues, superiors, and/or clients.  24% say it's on the rise. For men wondering, although I feel it goes without saying, it is NEVER acceptable - sober, or drunk at a lobby bar, to make sexual advances on a colleague, client, subordinate, or industry peer. I have heard this story one too many times, and I am always appalled that in 2019 this still happens.

    It's also not just male leaders which are the problem here.  Queen Bee Syndrome, is described as a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.  Madeline Albright once said, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other".  

    I was even more disappointed to see some of the women in the comments went as far as to attack my husband, stating his opinion about the lack of women or diversity did not matter because he was a white, middle aged man - WOW!  Way to an attack an advocate? 

    Some women who broke that glass ceiling and owned their own companies stated they never have been impacted by anything eluding to everything must be fine. Well, while I am thrilled for them, the overwhelming numbers in the majority don't lie.  It is imperative if we want change it cannot come from women alone, but rather by the joined forces of women AND men to first recognize honestly there is a problem (a huge one), and that we need to drastically make a change.  No, I do not want to ever be considered a token hire, but I darn well do not want to be excluded by my gender, or race.

    To add salt to the wound, according to the Global Gender Report 2020 - Weforum - World Economic Forum compared with White Men, African American and Hispanic Women make even less than White Women:

    Search Results

    Web results

    • Men $1.00
    • White Women- $.77
    • African American Women- $.64
    • Hispanic Women $.56 

    ….and the average time to close the gap at current rate of progress is 95 years!

    While we are at it, according to there are half as many African Americans and Hispanics in tech compared to private sector (69% White,14% Asian, 7.4% African American, & 8% Hispanic).

    Furthermore, 83% of Tech Executives are White (Asians 10.6%- 19.5%, Hispanics 3.1%-5.3%, African Americans 2%-5.3%).

    Also, when we consider future tech, and Artificial Intelligence. Did you ever notice Siri, Alexa, or Cortona  are all female, and obedient servants, turning lights on and off, and ordering groceries. Comparatively Male AI- IBM Watson- making business decisions, Salesforce Einstein, Ross the Robot Lawyer.  Is there sexism inadvertently being built into AI?  The more pressing issue is the very technology being created for a widely varying and diverse population is formed by a generally homogeneous group which is obviously not ideal. 

    I would highly suggest reading the riveting NY Times Article, "Dealing with bias in Artificial Intelligence".   Daphne Koller co-founder of the online education company Coursera, and the founder and chief executive of Insitro, a company using machine learning to develop new drugs.  "You could mean bias in the sense of racial bias, gender bias. For example, you do a search for C.E.O. on Google Images, and up come 50 images of white males and one image of C.E.O. Barbie. That’s one aspect of bias".  '

    Olga Russakovsky also shared her perspective as an expert in the arena. Russakovsky an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University who specializes in computer vision and a co-founder of the AI4ALL foundation that works to increase diversity and inclusion within A.I. Dr. Russakovsky is working to reduce bias in ImageNet, the data set that started the current machine-learning boom”.  According to Olga Russakovsky, "Researchers are primarily people who are male, who come from certain racial demographics, who grew up in high socioeconomic areas, primarily people without disabilities. We’re a fairly homogeneous population, so it’s a challenge to think broadly about world issues. There are a lot of opportunities to diversify this pool, and as diversity grows, the A.I. systems themselves will become less biased. 

    The issue for me is the assumption that the social media trolls (who were even more shockingly business leaders, CEO's and industry "experts") see nothing wrong with vocalizing there bias, or vocalizing an uneducated opinion without any remorse for their discrimination.  How can we impact a society with emotional and misinformed opinions and not facts?  So I felt the compelling desire to counter this negativity with some important and eye opening reasons on why they should care along with the  80% of respondents of State of Diversity and Inclusion U.S. Tech Survey who say D&I is important.

    Let's emphasize this with dollars and cents.  According to CompTIA CEO, Todd Thibodeaux, if properly implemented, diversity efforts could net the IT industry an extra $400 billion in revenue each year, 1% point toward diversity leads to 3% increase in revenue.

    Furthermore, Kapor Center for Social Impact states "unfair treatment in the workplace is the single largest driver of turnover in the tech industry", costing companies more than $16 billion per year in employee replacement costs!  Getting this wrong is indeed a costly, time killer.

    This is not just a "feel good", check a box tokenism movement... The truth is women and diversity make a company more profitable, and successful.  Here's some very different stats which make the aforementioned comments and statistics even more challenging to understand or defend.

    •  McKinsey Research, "Why Diversity Matters", 
      • Most gender-diverse companies perform 15% better on average. Moreover, the most ethnically diverse companies perform 35% better on average
      • Companies with 1 or more women on their boards get a 4% better return on investment Sourced by Credit Suisse, this effect is noticeable when companies include women more. 

    • Per Forbes article, "The Truth About Diversity- and Why It Matters",
      • "The diversity effect is also seen at the management level. The most ethnically diverse executive teams perform 20% better than their non-diverse counterparts.  
      • Private technology companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher ROI
    Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code Inc., speaks during the Twitter Inc. #HereWeAre Women.
      • The Women founded companies in First Round Capital’s portfolio outperformed companies founded by men by 63%.

      • In a study of over 350 startups, Mass Challenge and BCG determined that businesses founded  by women deliver higher revenue, 2X’s that of Men

      • Startups founded and cofounded by women actually performed better over time, generating 10% more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period

      • From 2007 to 2018, women-owned businesses grew by 58% in terms of the number of firms and 46% in terms of revenue, The number of firms owned by African-American women has grown by 164% since 2007. Latinx women-owned businesses saw more than 87%.


      • There is a strong and statistically significant correlation between the diversity of management teams and overall innovation, and have 22% lower turnover.

    Unconscious biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained, universal, and able to influence behavior.  After re-reading the comments, I realized it was imperative to shine a light on these biases, educate individuals, and hope they take the time to listen and learn.  

    In the 1970’s Symphony Orchestras were all white men, Blind Auditions behind a screen increased women up to 46%.  We have to identify, acknowledge and focus on the roots of bias, unconscious or otherwise in order to combat the problem.  

    The  average time it takes a recruiter to review a resume is 6 seconds, To put that in perspective, it takes it takes 30 times longer to microwave popcorn.  So these gut decisions on who we hire, promote or invest in is a quick yet crucial period of time.  I highly encourage each of you reading to share this article so others might be encouraged to learn and proactively help the cause.

    .If you still have any doubts, I would love to share with you some quotes I have used in my presentations, blogs, and podcasts from the most accomplished and inspiring leaders in tech give their 2 cents on the power of advancing women and diversity:

    10.  From the Editor and Chief of E2E and the article that started it all, " At a time when there are thousands of women who are qualified for the C-suite in the MSP software market….There are women and men who are qualified for these positions. Our group challenge: Look beyond the familiar (i.e., folks we already know) to always seek out the absolute best candidates. Cast a wider net, and you’ll ultimately wind up with some amazing hires and a march toward more diversity. Joe Panettieri- MSSP Alert & Channel E2E Co-Founder, Technology Media Entrepreneur, Journalist and Angel Investor

    9.  “When I think of a diverse culture, I think of an environment that supports unity, collaboration and acceptance- with those three things organizations can thrive and create a culture where they can all freely share their thoughts” 
    -Rokeya Jones, Tech Evangelist and GPM, Microsoft

    8.  “It’s dangerous when people all think the same, feel the same, have the same point of view. It’s our differences which are good for innovation, culture, & expanding our points of view”
    -Janet Schijns, CEO JS Group

    7.  “Other companies that I have come from have coined diversity as an ‘initiative …Here, diversity is not really an initiative. It’s more embedded in our culture. It’s an attitude driven by Anne and permeates to the executive team & rest of the company.” Mark Lipscomb, VP of people about Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23 and Me

    6.  “It doesn’t matter what race, gender, religion, what God they worship, it all comes down to what’s in peoples heads and hearts… and if you get the right people and they’re smart and have good values and understand what you’re trying to do- you turn them loose” Vik Verma, CEO 8x8

    5.  “When you have a team that comes from different backgrounds, different experiences, different cultures – the outcome you deliver is robust. Proven statistically, but it also feels great to be appreciated & heard for your authentic self”
    -Wendy Bahr, Chief Commercial Officer, Rubrik

    4.  “Some people think it’s just a gender conversation, men and women, and the salary gap…but I think it's much broader than that. It’s gender, cultural, language, country, age, leadership, and experiences” Tiffani Bova, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce

    3.  “A leader’s success is contingent on his or her ability to hire people that bring a different experience to the conversation. If you look across the table, and most everyone looks and thinks like you, you’ve failed”
    Heather Tenuto, Chief Revenue Officer at Zift Solutions

    2.  There are hundreds of historic and current examples of women and minorities doing groundbreaking work in technology, but so many of these stories are not well known, and in some cases, the stories have been all but lost” Megan Smith, Former CTO of the United States

    1.  “We can no longer pretend that biases don’t exist, nor can we talk around them.  The result of creating a more equal environment will not just be better performance for our organizations, but quite likely greater happiness for all”

    John Chambers, CEO JC2 Ventures Chairman Emeritus former CEO of Cisco

    No matter how you look at it, a more gender/diverse workforce is better for business, especially in Tech. Women are more than capable and qualified to excel in Tech-based fields, including engineering, coding, cybersecurity, as well as leadership roles.  Many women already are excelling in Tech despite the odds stacked against them, and the forward-thinking businesses they work for are reaping the rewards. It’s time all companies recognize the bottom line benefits that prioritizing the hiring, promoting and funding of qualified women in Tech provides.