Tag Archives: Feminism

Ada Lovelace Day – Carol Bartz

It’s Ada Lovelace Day and to share the woman in tech who inspires me was hard. I can think of a lot of fantastic tech heroines. Ultimately, I choose Carol Bartz, ex CEO of Yahoo and AutoDesk. Throughout her entire career she has not been afraid to be a woman in a hostile environment. She stayed in tech, she fought to the top of the industry and she kept a family life balance, saying it’s not possible to be perfect. She looks totally glamorous, swears like a trooper and worked her way through a comp sci degree as a cocktail waitress.

On balancing a career with family, Bartz says: “I have a belief that life isn’t about balance, because balance is perfection … Rather, it’s about catching the ball before it hits the floor.” ^ Kharif, Olga. “To Autodesk – and Beyond?”Business Week. (May 12, 2004) via Wikipedia/Carol Bartz.

In the 70s, Bartz worked at 3M but they wouldn’t promote her because “women don’t do these jobs”, so she moved on to various companies including DEC and Sun Microsystems. As CEO of Autodesk in 1992, Bartz transformed the company into a focussed highly successful business. Bartz also served on several boards and has been a member of the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Bartz’s move to Yahoo in 2009 was perhaps a ‘glass cliff’ as most were sceptical about the chances to resurrect one of the original internet dinosaurs, huge but facing extinction.

 In spite of pleasing business analysts with her performance over the last two years, Bartz was ignonimously dumped from Yahoo a few weeks ago, whereupon she called the board a bunch of ‘doofuses’ who had ‘fucked her over’. I love how Bartz went out fighting. She also continues to behave with integrity, honoring commitments made before leaving Yahoo for talks, donations, and visits.

She’s telling it like it is. Sometimes it just can’t be rosy for women in tech. I love the Wired cover of Limor Fried, who is another kickass tech girl goddess. But evoking Rosie the Riveter just reminds me of what happened to all those women who ran the factories and farms while the men were at war. Booted out when the war was over.

Although Ada may have been forgotten, originally computer programming was going to be a female job, while the men built the hardware. But it seems that the moment an industry looks interesting and/or lucrative, it becomes a male industry.

Statistically, no matter how well women are performing academically, and no matter how many great role models we can now point to, there still aren’t many women at the top.

“Since 1966, the number of women receiving bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering in the US has increased every year to come close to half. The proportion of grad students closer to 40%. The more technical an area is seen to be, the fewer the number of women.

Research on women’s participation in the “hard” sciences such as physics and computer science speaks of the “leaky pipeline” model, in which the propoertion of women “on track” to potentially becoming top scientists falls off at every step of the way, from getting interested in science and math in elementary school, through doctorate, postdoc, and career steps. Various reasons are proposed for this, but the vast differences in the “leakiness” of this same pipe across countries and times argue for a cultural interpretation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_science

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Corporate women say nannies are vital on road to gender equality

Corporate women say nannies are vital on road to gender equality

Kelsey Munro

September 10, 2011 –>

"There's a huge cost barrier to using nannies, because it's not tax deductible" ... Fiona Balfour.

“There’s a huge cost barrier to using nannies, because it’s not tax deductible” … Fiona Balfour. Photo: Louie Douvis

WHY don’t we have a nanny culture in Australia? Because of cost, culture and tradition, prominent woman say.

In a week where the federal government committed to appointing more women to government boards, company director Carolyn Hewson says a key factor hampering women’s climb up the corporate ladder is the lack of a ”nanny culture” in Australia.

I need a nanny. I’d actually like one for me not the kids but perhaps we can get a job rate on the lot of us. The rest of the article is worth a read, including the woeful statistics on female representation in board rooms and in the top echelons.

Civilization – not changing much.

Are the richest Americans any different? No. About 9/10ths of the wealthiest Americans are men. Only 1/10th of the Forbes’ list of America’s 400 richest people were women. To be precise, 42 out of 400. 

There’s a fair bit of inherited wealth on both sides of the gender divide, and quite a portfolio dispersion so it’s not possible to speculate about cultural fields and gender within the list. However, it would be interesting to check back over time and see if there is any significant increase in the numbers of wealthy women. I suspect that not a great deal has changed, but a sense of the timescale for changes relating to gender and racial equality might ensue. I think that African-Americans and Native Americans should be feeling justifiably left out. 

http://www.forbes.com/wealth/forbes-400/list


 

Fractions – or who doesn’t own the world.

Men own 9/10ths of the world. (For those who switch off the moment feminism is mentioned.) Following on from my previous post about power, if you do the math on the Forbes’ rich list, it becomes clear that men own the world. A good 9/10ths of it anyway.

This was Forbes’ 25th annual list of the richest people on the planet. Kind of interesting to see who owns the world isn’t it? “This year’s list broke records in size (1,210 billionaires) and total net worth ($4.5 trillion).” I did a quick survey for gender distribution of the first 15 pages. I random sampled the rest of the 221 total pages and the figures get even less female friendly as you drop down into the ordinary billionaires.

Male & Family: 21
Male: 115
Male & Female: 3
Female: 9
Female & Family: 4

So women have at best a 16:136 world wealth ratio. I’m betting that if you sample the lot then you can say less than 1/10th of world personal wealth is owned by women. Or that men own 9/10ths of the world.


Doing More Math – Death of Feminism

Why is feminism dead? Following on from my previous post about power, if you do the math on the Forbes’ rich list, it becomes clear that men own the world. A good 9/10ths of it anyway.

This was Forbes’ 25th annual list of the richest people on the planet. Kind of interesting to see who owns the world isn’t it? “This year’s list broke records in size (1,210 billionaires) and total net worth ($4.5 trillion).” I did a quick survey for gender distribution of the first 15 pages. I random sampled the rest of the 221 total pages and the figures get even less female friendly as you drop down into the ordinary billionaires.

Male & Family: 21
Male: 115
Male & Female: 3
Female: 9
Female & Family: 4
So women have at best a 16:136 world wealth ratio. I’m betting that if you sample the lot then you can say less than 1/10th of world personal wealth is owned by women. Or that men own 9/10ths of the world.


Doing the Math – Women and Power

Doing the math. Powerful women account for 5:63 of the Forbes ‘Most Powerful People on the Planet’ list. That’s 1:13 (rounded up). While that’s probably an improvement on the past, there is still a long way to go, given that the human sex ratio is still roughly equal. 

More interesting to me are the 5 powerful females, the fields they are in and the relation of their position in the All Powerful list compared to the Women’s Own list.
http://www.forbes.com/wealth/power-women#p_1_s_arank 

1st amongst Women is Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, 6th in the All Stars.
2nd Woman is Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, 20th in the All Stars.
3rd Woman is Dilma Roussef, President of Brazil, 16th in the All Stars.
7th Woman is Sonia Gandhi, President of India NCP, 9th in the All Stars.
14th Woman is Oprah Winfrey, Media Personality, 64th in the All Stars. 

Doing the math. There are 9 women ahead of Oprah on the Women’s Own list who don’t get a look in on the ‘really’ powerful list. Why not? These women are largely in the business fields. They are CEOs and COOs and MDs. For women, that’s a pretty big deal obviously, but one that doesn’t cut it in the ‘real’ world. This gender imbalance is interesting because there are two apparent issues. 

One is that the methodologies for choosing each list were subtly different although Forbes appear to be selecting by the same criteria; power, as shown by wealth, size of empire and influence. Subtle differences in selection criteria, i.e. appearance perhaps, show the impact of that selection bias can sneakily have in many fields leading to gender and race imbalances. 

The second really interesting thing though is the evidence of female and male cultural spheres. This gender bias is still going strong from the bottom, to the pointy end of the most powerful people. Women are still nurses, teachers and entertainers. Men are still businessmen, bankers and engineers. 

The problem with that is the overt way in which power is not evenly distributed across occupations. Didn’t Angela McRobbie say that ‘if visibility equalled power, teenage girls would rule the world’. Still doing the math. The figures show an exponential decrease in power as occupation changes from ‘masculine’ to ‘feminine’. Oprah is 14th in the Powerful Women list but only 64th on the All Powerful list. 

The entire All Powerful list is comprised entirely of rulers, CEOs and MDs. The only entertainment aside from Oprah is the inclusion of Julian Assange in last place. Women’s power even in the rarified Forbes business world reflects a lower level of penetration and a feminine touch. About one third of powerful women are heads of small countries or large NGOs. About a third of powerful women are running female centric businesses, media, fashion and health oriented. The remaining powerful women are split between entertainers, women with inherited or partner given power and some really powerful people who nonetheless, aren’t powerful enough to make the top list of ‘really’ powerful people. 

No wonder women are bad at math. Nothing ever adds up right.


 

What does it mean? World’s Most Powerful Women – Forbes

Gallery: The Women Who Matter Most

They are politicians, CEOs, bankers, cultural icons, billionaires and entrepreneurs. A fresh look at power as reach and influence. Continue

It’s Forbes magazine, so the focus is on wealth. But what is there to disagree with in their methodology for calculating influence? Reach, power and wealth. I have two questions. Are we normalizing a masculine model of power, therefore downplaying areas in which women have power? (Or ought to be seen as powerful.) And would that not create an apples vs oranges scenario? Perhaps the interest is in exploring the areas in which women are most successful compared to men and vice versa and watching the shifting demographics. The feminization and subsequent remaking of certain industries, or occupations within them. These lists can only go so far.

Women are still more powerful in entertainment and politics than business or technology. Although, arguably a few women have always had strong political influence, so what is changing? These days a women is not always politically powerful through family and marital alliances.