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New study: Women of color in tech aren’t just underrepresented, they’re also undervalued

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There’s been a lot of discussion about how we see few women of color in tech because there are few of them in the STEM pipeline. But a forthcoming study my team conducted as part of the Kapor Center’s Women of Color in Computing Collaborative shows that the pipeline is only part of the problem. We found robust evidence of bias, which was associated with women of color in tech being the equivalent of 37.6 percentage points less likely than white women to see a long-term future for themselves at their companies. Women of color in tech were also 16.4 percentage points more likely than white women to report that they have left or considered leaving a company because of its culture.

Here’s the bottom line: Tech is less of a meritocracy than we like to think. Women of color were dramatically more likely than white women to report bias in hiring, assignments, promotions and compensation, performance evaluations, and access to sponsorship network. Our prior study found that white women engineers were dramatically more likely to report bias in workplace systems than white men.

Before I dip deeper into the study’s findings, an important note on the study itself: We had 216 responses to our 10-minute survey that used Likert-scale and open-ended questions designed to pick up how bias plays out in the workplace. It ran from December 2019 to May 2020 and was supplemented by qualitative data from 11 one-on-one interviews. The survey was open to all women in tech, and we promoted it via affinity groups, alumni groups, and employee ERGS, and our team’s personal networks. The racial/ethnic breakdown was: 10.6% white, 28% Black or African American, 40% Latinx or Hispanic, 28% East, South, or Southeast Asian, 21% Multiracial, 12% Native American, Alaska Native, and other underrepresented groups. (Note that this adds up to more than 100% — individuals who selected “multiracial” and also specified racial/ethnic groups are counted more than once as are some individuals who selected a racial group and indicated their ethnicity.) 68% were individual contributors, 23% were managers, and 9% held other tech roles. While the sample sizes for this survey were small, our group has previously collected data using the Workplace Experiences Survey from approximately 18,000 individuals in different industries. This existing data gave us a useful baseline to understand how the experiences of women of color in computing compare on average to women of color in other industries (letting us know that women of color in computing are reporting high baseline levels). At the same time, we were able to compare the effect sizes of the differences between white women and women of color, and among women of color in different racial/ethnic groups, in the current study to the average effect sizes of the differences we find in other industries. This approach allows us to understand what the data for this study are saying, even if we are unable to conduct null hypothesis significance testing.

A key recurring theme in the responses we got from our latest survey was that women of color in tech have to put in a lot more work than their colleagues do. Women of color in tech were 39.3 percentage points more likely than white women to spend more time than colleagues do on DEI work. Typically, this is work that isn’t part of their job description. Some women of color we spoke to had even been handed all of HR to do on top of their regular jobs, and others were treated as de facto office managers — only to find their performance assessed based solely on their job-description jobs. Women of color also had to do more in their regular jobs to prove their worth, as well as more self-editing to make their colleagues comfortable with them. In short, women of color did a lot more work that is unpaid, unrecognized, and undervalued — which means less time and energy for highly valued work and life outside of work.

Women of color in tech reported higher rates of every pattern of bias. One powerful form is prove-it-again bias, where some groups have to prove themselves more than others. My team’s earlier study of US engineers found that about one third of white men said they had to prove themselves more than their colleagues, but nearly two thirds of women did. Our new study found that women of color had to prove-it-again at a rate 23.4 percentage points higher than white women. “I felt that I had to prove myself even more when it came to saying I could help out on the project. ‘I know what I’m talking about.’ Even doing things like showing up to work early, [working during] lunch break …,” one Black respondent reported. Notice how bias meant that she literally had to work longer hours than her colleagues.

Prove-it-again bias also plays out in tech specs. “For tech specs developed by men, it seems like they don’t mind if they don’t include as much detail, but any technical spec I’ve seen created by a woman on my team has always had an immense level of detail,” said a Latina respondent. Women of color were 24.7 percentage points more likely than white women to say they had to put in extra effort to be perceived as team players. They also were more likely to say their mistakes matter more, their successes matter less, and to be assumed incompetent. “I was testing one of our mobile apps … and he immediately launched into how to properly test it … And I had to cut him off midsentence and say, ‘I’m a software engineer, you do not need to explain how to take a screenshot to me,’” said a Native American respondent.

You might assume that the stereotype that “Asians are good at STEM” would help women of Asian descent. Not so. In fact, Asian women were particularly likely to report that they are seen as less qualified even when they have the same credentials as their colleagues.

Another pattern of bias is the tightrope, which reflects that white men typically just need to be authoritative and ambitious to succeed, while other groups face the far trickier task of being authoritative and ambitious in ways that colleagues see as “appropriate.” Often this entails walking a tightrope between being seen as “too meek” and “too much.” “When I do say something, you have a problem with the way I say it. When I don’t say anything, then you have a problem that I’m not saying it,” said a Black respondent. A 2016 report of women in Silicon Valley found that 84% of those surveyed reported being labeled as “too aggressive.” Women of color, we found, were 29.4 percentage points more likely than white women to report that, when they had business disagreements with coworkers, their behavior was misinterpreted as anger or hostility. “I wasn’t angry, I just wasn’t deferential,” said a Latina in our prior study of women in STEM. All this means that women of color need to be politically savvier to succeed: “When I have a strong opinion about something, I take special care in choosing my words,” said a Native American respondent.

Tightrope bias also affects access to plum assignments. In our prior study of US engineers, 85% of white male engineers but only 43% of Black women reported the same access as colleagues had to the best assignments. Women of color were 19.8 percentage points less likely to report fair access to desirable assignments than white women, and 18.4 percentage points less likely to report that they had fair access to opportunities to develop and present creative ideas.

All this affects promotions. A 2021 study that combined elements of tightrope and prove-it-again found that bias explained 30 to 50% of the gender promotion differential between men and women.

In prior studies of other industries, we have found that women of color encounter maternal wall bias — gender bias based on motherhood — at about the same rate as white women. However, in tech, women of color were 16.7 percentage points more likely than white women to say that having children changed colleagues’ perceptions of their competence and commitment. Motherhood triggers strong negative competence and commitment assumptions that can lead to hyperscrutiny: “Nobody here at work tells you, you have to quit your job… . But, in reality, what women deal with is somebody giving them a look when they are not at their desk for a couple of hours,” said a Black respondent.

Maternal wall bias can result in networking and other choice opportunities drying up. A Black woman’s manager regularly played golf with his white male direct reports, but when she asked to be included he said, “Oh, I know you like to leave on time to get home with your kids.” Women of color also reported likely-illegal behavior like penalizing women for taking maternity leave: “I pointed out to [my supervisor], well, I’ve accomplished more in these 10 months than I did in the previous 12, so why is my ranking lower? And her response was, ‘Well, out of sight out of mind.’”

To fix all this will take more than a sincere conversation. It will take companies willing to adopt a sustained, evidenced-based approach to interrupting bias in both everyday workplace interactions and business systems. To address structural racism requires structural change. One starting place: Tech workplaces need to stop dumping DEI, HR, and office management onto women of color. When women of color do DEI work, they need to be provided with sufficient administrative support so that all they need to do is the initial contact with someone who is coming to give a talk or sit on a panel, not the million follow-up tasks. Success in DEI work also needs to be rewarded equally with success in accomplishing other work tasks. That’s a “bias interrupter”– a process change designed to interrupt bias.

Actions have consequences. Tech companies need to take a closer look not just at the pipelines of talent flowing into their company but at creating conditions for women of color to thrive. An easy way to do that is to measure how they fare on promotions and compensation as well as performance evaluations. Bias and perceived fairness in workplace systems accounted for 67% of the variation in women of color’s career satisfaction, 66% of the variation in a sense of belonging (with unfairness in promotions most strongly linked), and 59% of the variation in intent to stay with their employer. Next step? They leave.

Joan C. Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Work Life Law at University of California Hastings Law. Her most recent book is Bias Interrupted: Creating Inclusion for Real and For Good

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Here’s how technology and innovation are driving the growth of Arista Vault, India’s first smart luggage brand

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It was a crisp winter evening in October 2017 when Purvi Roy, an ace designer who studied at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, presented her high fashion fall winter collection – Warriors Alley- at India Runway Week. The collection was powerful and the show was a great success. At the after-party, she crossed paths with Colonel Krishan Kumar Singh and finance expert Atul Gupta.

After a brief conversation with Purvi, the Colonel suggested that maybe it was time for her to do something for the regular masses which would serve a larger purpose. They began brainstorming and after much deliberation, hard work, and perseverance Arista Vault was born.

Arista Vault is an innovative tech company creating concept-based products to make human life easy, simple, and safe. The company is headquartered in Delhi with offices in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Goa. One of their first offerings was a smart wallet with inbuilt anti-theft and anti-loss features, that would keep your most valuable belongings safe and protected while travelling.

“Arista is a Sanskrit word that means ‘unhurt’ or safest, and vault is a safe. We particularly chose a Sanskrit word for the name because while we go global it will always depict the roots which are Indian; so Arista Vault is a proud Made in India brand,” reveals Purvi.

As a D2C brand, it is also India’s first smart luggage company having filed six patents with one of them being an internationally published patent. The company is the perfect amalgamation of indigenous technology and in-house design that attempts to make customers feel the luxury as well as the safety of carrying a smart wallet.

Backed by Purvi’s years of knowledge and experience as a designer, the wallet while being the best at technology also has the slimmest silhouette which gives it a very luxurious look, making it a great gifting product. Purvi always wanted to make sure that the aesthetics of the product felt opulent, hence it has a jewel packaging with a matte-finished box.

The logo which is a power button inside a hexagon has a touch of gold to it, symbolic of a sense of pride and luxury. So you have a plush feeling when you own an Arista Vault smart wallet along with complete security of your wallet and its belongings.

Making traveller’s life hassle-free

If you had a penny for every time your heart skipped a beat while you frantically searched your pockets thinking you had lost your wallet, you’d probably beat Elon Musk’s wealth!

While that is a far-fetched reality, safeguarding your wallet is not. Arista’s Smart Wallet, with its many features, offers customers the relief to travel hassle-free even in crowded areas like trains and buses. The wallet has a power button which when pressed activates its features.

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Its main USP is the anti-loss and anti-theft features. It comes with an abundance of technologies such as an anti-theft alarm, built-in power bank, two-way tracker, remote selfie feature, RFID protection. The wallet also has a 20-meter separation alarm with two-way connectivity to your mobile phone. This way the phone can ring the wallet and vice versa. This feature especially comes in handy if your phone is either lost or stolen.

To enable such a high level of technology in a product as simple as a wallet would mean a dedicated amount of research and development.

“We are backed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and were incubated at the Electropreneur park and IIITD. We work in two world-class labs – Power lab and Fab Lab, which have state-of-the-art technology where the design, research, and technology integration are done. We also have a dedicated tannery and product design manufacturing unit where the integration of technology is done into the product after three layers of quality control,” Purvi says.

Along with technology and design, the co-founders were clear on maintaining the highest level of safety for the smart wallets. Hence all wallets are ISO certified with their privacy policy in compliance with the IT Act of the Government. As of the last quarter of this year, 6,000 smart wallets were sold amounting to Rs 2.6 crore.

Challenges along the way

It’s the trailblazing technology that makes the smart wallets of Arista Vault stand out. But this technology was not easy to develop. Purvi says that it took over a year of R&D to develop a prototype finally, but by this time all the seed fund had been exhausted.

“We knew we had a great product but for further research, innovation and product marketing more capital was needed. So all the three founders decided to put their savings and I supported the company with the earnings of my fashion venture that had initially incubated Arista Vault,” Purvi adds.

The company ran a pilot of their wallets on Amazon Launchpad and those were all sold out within three days. They used all the feedback received to further improve the product. The turning point in their entrepreneurial journey came in 2019 when the company got funding and support from the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology under Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM), with Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) & Electropreneur Park.

Using this support, Arista Vault was able to scale their venture sustainably to build world-class smart wallets that eventually got them recognition from Amazon with the Viewer’s Choice award as an Emerging Brand in 2019. In 2021, the company received the prestigious Star award for Most Innovative Brand Year. They were also able to enter the international market by exporting their products to Germany, Chile, Dubai, and other gulf countries and finally to the USA.

This year the company achieved a major milestone in its journey when it became one of the few smart luggage brands in India to raise funding from Germany-based MainStage Angel Network and UK-based Pontaq VC.

Establishing itself in a new segment

Purvi says that while the funding was a great boost both financially and morally, the true journey of the company has begun now. The capital raised is being used to scale the business and establish itself as a market leader in a fairly new segment of smart luggage.

To do this, the company has grown its distribution model and channel partners to cover various cities across the country where Arista Vault products are being sold in a brick-and-mortar model. They have forged partnerships with relevant stakeholders like the Goa government to enter the travel and tourism sector as well, with their smart products.

In October when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India, Arista Vault was one of the few tech companies to exhibit their smart products. They are also coming up with a series of 5G-implemented products.

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Going ahead, the company wishes to build a strong presence in the smart luggage market in a B2B model. For that, they recently launched their Switch2Smart range which has a variety of smart business bags, business trolleys, laptop bags and file holders. These bags have features like GPS live and lost location which makes it almost impossible for them to be lost or stolen. They also have other features like smart charging for mobile phones, geofencing and anti-skimming.

“Nowadays from our homes to watches, everything is smart. So why should our bags be left behind? The Switch2Smart range of Arista Vault will give travellers the luxury to be free and not worry about their luggage,” Purvi says. The company has already started generating sales with B2B orders displayed in DIW 2022 Gift Expo.

In FY 2020-2021, the company generated revenue of Rs 3.59 crore and now they are well on their way to achieving Rs 12-15 crore in this financial year showing more than 4X growth in business.

Along with the sales generated on Amazon, Flipkart and their own website, this festive season Arista Vault also got into corporate gifting for occasions like Diwali and has completed bulk orders from companies such as Bharati Cement, Mitsubishi, etc. They also recently started with Amazon.com in the US and UAE.

“Going forward, both B2B and B2C have their specific areas to serve. Our products are innovative and new and require consumer awareness which is possible primarily through B2C. However at a certain level to reach a wider audience, B2B is a preferred mode of business,” Purvi adds.

Arista Vault aims to establish itself as a market leader in the smart luggage category by bringing revolutionary technology to wallets, business bags, travel backpacks and much more. In the coming year, they wish to strengthen their brand presence in India as well as abroad by launching another 15 product categories worldwide.


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Elon Musk Reveals Twitter Will Soon Release a New Feature

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Elon Musk continues to reach out directly to Twitter users to get feedback on his newly acquired platform.

In a tweet earlier today, the billionaire/Chief Twit turned his focus on lurkers who consume the content but don’t contribute. He politely encouraged these so-called ‘doom scrollers’ to get involved.

“I meet so many people who read twitter every day but almost never tweet,” he wrote. “If I may beg your indulgence, please add your voice to the public dialogue!”

Musk has reason to be concerned. According to a study done in 2021, around 25% of Twitter users in the U.S. produce around 97% of all tweets.

His plea to be more active on the platform received nearly 85,000 responses, but he honed in on one in particular from a Twitter user named Rocket_Medic who, perhaps channeling hundreds of thousands of others in the Twitterverse, wrote:

“I reply a lot…no one reads my tweets.”

Musk then asked Rocket_Medic if he was aware of Twitter Analytics, which can be surfaced by clicking on the graph icon at the bottom right of all users’ tweets. The feature lets you know how many times people have seen, Retweeted, liked, and replied to each tweet.

Musk told Medic that he shouldn’t be bothered by the low reply rate since that’s not the metric that really matters. “Those who read tweets outnumber those who reply/retweet/like tweets by over 1000%,” Musk wrote.

At this point, Musk revealed an upcoming feature that had not yet been discussed publicly.

Twitter will soon start displaying tweet reach metrics up-front on all tweets, just like they do for video views.

The reaction to Musk’s announcement seemed mostly positive, with over 15,000 likes. But one user was not convinced.

@JamieHutchens4 replied:

“My Tweets get zero reactions. I think that’s the case with most people. No reactions give a feeling of being unimportant. Avoiding that feeling is likely why lots do not tweet. Most probably don’t even realize that is why they aren’t Tweeting.”

To which Musk replied: “How many views do your tweets get?”

At press time, @JamieHutchens4 still had yet to respond to Musk’s question.

Ironically, his tweet has been liked over 10,000 times, with nearly 800 replies.

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CEO of Amazon Says Platform Won’t Stop Selling Anti-semitic Film From Kyrie Irving Tweet

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

On Wednesday, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company would not be removing the antisemitic film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America from its streaming service. Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have prodded Amazon to take down the film because it contains antisemitic tropes and allegations that, throughout history, Jews have conspired to oppress Black people.



Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

The video first received widespread attention near the end of October after Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving shared a link to it on Twitter.

Speaking at the New York Times DealBook Summit, Jassy — who is Jewish — said Amazon should allow access to controversial viewpoints. He continued: “As a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with a lot of different viewpoints, we have to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable — objectionable and they differ from our particular viewpoints.”

Jassy added that Amazon must be consistent with its policies and take care not to censor content. If the media “actively incites or promotes violence,” Jassy said, “or teaches people to do things like pedophilia,” the decision to take it down is “more straightforward.”

Amazon has “very expansive customer reviews,” according to Jassy, and where any kind of media receiving considerable public attention are concerned, “customers do a good job of warning other people.” According to the Times, Amazon has indicated that it is considering adding a disclaimer to Wake Up, but Jassy also expressed confidence in customer reviews playing a role in how the video is perceived.

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