Sexism in 2010 – have we moved on?

Have we moved on from this?

Every so often you read something that makes you stop in your tracks, and today I had one of those moments. Times journalist Caitlin Moran started a discussion about sexism on Twitter and encouraged her followers to share their stories. Rather than a few tales from the 1950s, she was bombarded with examples of discrimination and misogyny that were quite shocking. To see the full extent of what people were saying, I did a search for @caitlinmoran to see what everyone was tweeting to her – there were so many tweets I couldn’t keep up with reading them all! And many referred to treatment in the workplace. Here is a selection – brace yourselves!

  • I once was told (afterwards) I got a job only because I was wearing a short skirt at the interview.
  • Boss announced as he got up to go to a meeting ‘You girls can sit and talk about shoes and files your nails whilst I’m gone’
  • I was promoted to purchasing manager at work and the president said he made the decision because “women like to shop”.
  • Friend on partnership track at major city law firm “I am pregnant”. Response from partner “do you want job in marketing?”
  • Interviewing a skip owner for a PR story (I know, FFS) he addressed all his answers to my male colleague (not a writer)… he only turned to me to tell the story of the hamster they rescued from a skip. All I would be interested in, right?
  • My breasts were given a round of applause at a work’s golf day.
  • My female Doctor cousin was paying for petrol, was asked “are you sure this is your credit card?” as it had “Dr.” on it.
  • Was called by our company pensions admin people. I told them I wasn’t the best person to talk to about it (would refer to PA). Man on phone asked “oh, does your husband deal with all your financial affairs?” My job title = managing director
  • My last job, at a business lunch, this guy said ‘well, you’re only a little girl’ when I didn’t finish everything on my plate.
  • Regularly have people walk past the 2 guys WHO WORK FOR ME only to ask me where the paper for the photocopier is.
  • Person refusing to leave msg: “I don’t deal with insignificances &anyway you’re a woman, you’d probably get it all wrong”
  • At a magazine I know, one guy has a bell that he rings whenever a ‘fit bird’ walks in so all the others can check her out
  • At a job interview I was asked to come back for a 2nd interview but this time to “do something with my hair and makeup”!!!
  • A former colleague once threw a shoe at me followed by the remark “F*cking women” because I refused to make coffee for him
  • Once asked how “likely” it was that I would get pregnant, in an interview.
  • I’m a sound engineer,working in theatre.After one show,middle aged man came up to me at the sound desk and said “Do you do the sound then?” “Yes, obviously” “And you’re a girl?” “….” “How do you manage? All that technology”

Apologies there are so many – but I couldn’t imagine anyone getting bored reading those! Really is sobering to think that these opinions still exist isn’t it?


Facebook – what you don’t know!

Facebook is a part of everyday life for many of us, but in the last couple of weeks it has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.  Users of the site have expressed their dissatisfaction of the complex privacy controls. In response to this Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commented “sometimes we move too fast – and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark”. Now we’ve heard the news that they were going to make the controls simpler, starting today.

So what are the issues here with privacy and why has it caused such a stir? In short, users can visit the privacy section of the site and opt in and out of certain things – for example allowing photos you have uploaded to only be seen by your friends or people in your network or restricting the visibility of your contact info. The list goes on and on and quite frankly it is very complex – so much so that there is actually a manual you can download which details all the different options you have!

So Facebook plans to make the issue of privacy much easier for users and one particular issue that we believe needs urgent attention is the use of Facebook’s  new social plugins and we came across a shocking piece on this very issue written by Roger Thompson of AVG. The article explains how Roger was surfing the web to catch up on the day’s news when he noticed the site he was on (CNN.COM) had a live feed of his Facebook friends activity! What was odd was Roger was not logged on to either CNN nor had his Facebook account open.

So why was happening? It turns out that hundreds of website are using the social plugins that Facebook introduced at the recent F8 Developers Conference which are designed to show which of your friends are voting ‘like’ on a particular sites news stories – and if you happen to be visiting the  same sites it will show your friends new feeds. But how is this happening if you are not logged into the site in question? The social plugins are using Facebook Connect which was designed to be a ‘Single Sign On’ for the web – in other words you log on to Facebook once, and when you visit other sites, it logs you on to the site using the Facebook credentials already provided!

We certainly didn’t know this and were quite amazed that this was actually happening – the message here and what Roger suggests is “If you want to stop this type of behaviour, and thus do not want to see the stories that your friends are interested in as they visit the web, simply click “Log Out” of Facebook. This is something that no one really does. Simply, closing a Facebook tab or window DOES NOT log you out of Facebook.  I think the user community needs to be educated specifically on this.”

We agree with Roger and have certainly taken note – what do you think? We’d certainly like to know – let’s hope that Facebook addresses this issues soon!

Career vs Family life

I recently came across an article in HR magazine claiming that more than a third of women do not think they can meet their career goals while still paying enough attention to their personal lives. We recently blogged about the lack of women on the board of UK firms – are the two connected?

Kenexa Research claims ‘traditionally, women play a larger role in managing their family responsibilities and, therefore, they are likely to feel pressure in trying to balance both work and family demands’.  Kenexa carried out a survey of over 1000 employees asking for their views on work-life balance; just over fifty per cent believed their employers supported their efforts to balance both their work life and personal life. Does being successful both in the workplace and at home depend then on the support you get from your employer? Read the rest of this entry »

Cyberella winner announced!

Back in January we launched a competition in conjunction with the National IT Learning Centre to win a free IT training course worth £3000. Entrants simply had to explain in 100 words why they wanted to win. We had some great entries but whittled them down to a short list of eight. NITLC and staff were then shown the short list and asked to vote for our favourite. Centrine from Glasgow was our lucky winner!

Her entry was: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved computers. So much so that my 5 year old daughter knows how to use the basic side of computers as well. I’m proud of myself for instilling technology in her. I’m a single parent wanting so bad to progress career wise and I just genuinely wish that I was given a chance to prove myself. Winning this course will be a door opening for me in IT. It’ll give me a chance to better not only my future but my daughter’s. Thanks in advance.” [sic]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cyber Security Forum

With the internet now a part of our daily lives, it’s more important than ever that we make sure all the information we’re sharing is kept safe, and keeps us safe. This applies not only to us as individuals but on a global scale!

In 2007 the Critical Information Infrastructure of Estonia came under a series of co-ordinated cyber attacks – it showed the world that someone and their computer could bring a country to a standstill. Because of these threats it’s crucial that we develop global standards and responses, and make sure developing countries are ready and able to deal with these threats as well.

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is holding the Cyber Security Forum in London on 17th and 18th June to create awareness of these threats, promote international co-operation and help decision makers be more prepared to deal with the issue.

Womenintechnology is proud to be supporting the event but you could be involved too!

The event will feature a number of international speakers – from IT policy makers to technology companies – who will share their valuable experiences. You could be one of them, and raise the profile of your organisation at the same time.

For more information visit the website or get in touch with us!

New government, new fight for women?

There have been a number of articles recently about the lack of women in the boardroom of UK firms – the Guardian said ‘companies have employed armies of equal opportunities officers, diversity managers and HR professionals’ to sort this problem out, yet the ‘number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 has hardly changed’. In fact figures reveal that in 2009 only 12% of FTSE 100 companies had one or more women on their board.

So why is this case? Is it because women often take time off at some stage of their career to bring up their children and when they do return they have missed their opportunity; or that in a male dominated world, women are often overlooked by men on the board who like to recruit in their own image? These may very well be reasons why some women have missed out but how are we going to turn this situation around? Read the rest of this entry »