Beauty or the geek: Why should women in tech choose?

Olga is head of legal at ClearSlide.
I once heard a joke about a zookeeper arranging animals for a portrait. “Smart animals go to the right and the pretty animals go to the left,” the zookeeper told them. The animals made their choices, sorting themselves into groups of either “pretty” or “smart.”
Well, all except one: a monkey running back and forth between the two groups. When the zookeeper inquired why, the monkey innocently answered: “How can I choose when I am both pretty and smart?”
Of course, the point of this little story is that the monkey – a creature usually mocked for its questionable intelligence and beauty – could not make a choice that was so easy for the other animals. While this situation seems absurd, it’s a reality for many women in the tech industry, especially young women.
The current hazing and socialization process for new tech hires similarly demands that, to join the tech industry, women must leave their femininity (see also: “prettiness”) at the door and embrace the geeky, masculine culture instead. All too often women in this industry – whether in technical or non-technical roles – are forced to make the same choice between being pretty and smart as the animals in the zoo. It seems to me, however, that the monkey had a point. Why choose?
Most recently the clash between femininity and the tech industry played out after Isis Wenger, a full-stack engineer, was featured in a OneLogin recruitment ad. Wenger’s OneLogin ad – part of a marketing campaign that featured several OneLogin employees – led to numerous accusations that the ad was “just appealing to dudes” as her “sexy smirk” was analyzed in great detail. Many even questioned if the poster was an honest and realistic representation of female engineers.
In her response, the introverted Wenger discussed how the reactions to the ad were symptoms of a larger problem of sexism in the tech industry. She aptly replied in her LinkedIn post: “News flash: this isn’t by any means an attempt to label ‘what female engineers look like.’ This is literally just ME, an example of ONE engineer at OneLogin. The ad is supposed to be authentic. My words, my face, and as far as I am concerned it is.” She seemed genuinely bewildered (as she should be), about why she can’t just be herself.
Wenger also observed, “There is a significant lack of empathy and insight towards recognizing that their [referring to men in tech] ‘playful/harmless’ behavior is responsible for making others inappropriately uncomfortable. This industry’s culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mold.” She then invited the readers to redefine “what an engineer should look like” using the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag, which has since been widely used to highlight diversity in tech.
One way to change the notion that being “pretty” and being “smart” are mutually exclusive is to change the way we talk about tech.
For example, describing tech as geeky is not a way to attract or retain women to tech in the long-run. According to many dictionaries, “geeky” usually has two meanings. First, “a person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.” Second, “a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.” One does not have to be geeky, in either meaning of the word, to have a successful career in tech. These definitions appear to exclude any feminine qualities, further pushing that being pretty or feminine is impossible as a woman in tech.
The image of a geek is also highly masculinized; the “tech geek” stereotype is predominantly male. Holding this geek stereotype as a standard for the tech industry creates the impression that the typical tech professional is always male and makes being male the norm in tech. Similarly, according to the Wikipedia, the word geek usually connotes “a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person.” Wikipedia also suggests a more neutral meaning of the word geeky to refer to “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake.” Again, even the more neutral meaning is hardly positive, inclusive, encouraging, or appealing to women, whose qualifications and motives for interests in tech are nearly always questioned.
Changing the way we talk about in tech in general is a keystone change that’s required to start closing the gender gap in tech. A change like this in the public discourse will trickle down, leading to a cascade of actions that will eventually help us make things better not just for women, but for everyone in technology.
After all, tech is no longer an isolated economic sector, and we frankly can’t afford to exclude women. At this time, women are ubiquitous and part of every economic and social sector. If we don’t find a way to include females (and for the that matter all others who don’t fit the arbitrary mold) in tech soon, we will be denying them access to economic opportunities, the chance to be a part of the twenty first century workforce, and the pursuit of happiness. We would also be denying ourselves crucial access to potential innovation and contributions to technology as a whole. And that will benefit us all – so let’s get started already.

How Salesforce & Box are changing the landscape in regulated industries

Sarah is a tech blogger and researcher focused on cloud and enterprise. You can follow her here.
With an aim to encourage the adoption of cloud CRM solutions in regulated industries, Salesforce recently announced the launch of a new platform called Salesforce Shield, which came shortly after Box introduced the general availability of Box Governance. Like Shield, it also focuses on ensuring cloud customers meet legal, regulatory and business policies regarding data storage and transfer.
For organizations that operate in the healthcare, finance and legal industries, both Salesforce Shield and Box Governance may bring the highly sought after flexibility to cloud services without disrupting the organizations’ security requirements. Meanwhile, companies providing cloud-based services to these regulated industries provides a new opportunity to increase marketshare — and in doing so, change the landscape for cloud services. Here’s how…

Cloud adoption in finance and health care

The fact that the leading cloud CRM and cloud collaboration providers have launched solutions for the regulated industries almost at the same time could indicate a new trend that isn’t likely to disappear. Namely, after several years of struggles with cloud implementations, organizations that have strict data security policies have started changing their attitudes towards the cloud. A recent survey by Cloud Security Alliance revealed that the cloud adoption in the finance sector increased significantly in 2014.
Also, 61 percent of professionals working in the finance sector are in the process of creating a cloud strategy within their organizations, according to the same survey. Conversely, only 18 percent say they are planning to continue using the private clouds.
Similarly, the healthcare industry is also seeing an accelerated adoption of cloud solutions. Skyhigh Q2 2015 report on the cloud adoption and risk in health care suggests that more institutions are embracing the cloud to increase employee productivity and cut costs.
Compared to previous years, the use of private clouds in these industries is gradually decreasing — mainly thanks to the growing number of secure cloud solutions designed in accordance with the national security standards. Among them, Salesforce Shield and Box Governance are probably the products that would revolutionize the industries and enable even more organizations to migrate sensitive data to the cloud.

Secure offerings

With the ability to support the strict regulations for data access and retention, Salesforce Shield opens a new door for the organizations that were previously limited to using private clouds for security reasons. The service includes a number of security features designed to enable clients to safely work with the cloud without fear of violating federal regulations. More specifically, organizations in regulated industries will now have access to:

  • Platform encryption native to the Salesforce1 platform.
  • Data archive designed to help organizations cut costs by keeping data in “nearline storage.”
  • A field audit trail that enables companies to keep track of changes and ensure they are using only the most accurate data.
  • Event monitoring for the purposes of increasing visibility of the actions associated with the data use.

Unlike Salesforce, which enables organizations to build trusted cloud apps “using clicks, not code,” Box Governance is a new add-on service that adds advanced security features to Box’s widely used sharing and collaboration SaaS. The company has introduced three key capabilities in order to adjust the service to the needs of organizations that need to ensure compliance:

  • Retention management, which helps administrators control preservation and deletion schedules of their sensitive documents.
  • Content security policies that protect clients’ sensitive data.
  • Defensible eDiscovery to comply with data discovery requests.

The impact

Historically, the cloud has been associated with numerous security risks, which is why its adoption in the regulated industries has been notably slow. While the enterprises managed to find an intermediary solution by implementing hybrid clouds, businesses in regulated industries took more time to actually develop efficient public cloud strategies.
This is especially true for the health care industry, which has probably seen the tightest constraints regarding IT infrastructure innovation. The challenges here range from managing employee productivity apps to authentication, access and audit paradigms, as mentioned in a study by SecureLink. Working with highly sensitive citizens’ data, healthcare institutions have had a limited number of IT solutions at their disposal.
For the past few months, however, we’ve been seeing a significant increase in the number of apps that support HIPAA and FINRA compliance for healthcare and finance organizations. Unsurprisingly, this contributed to accelerating the adoption of new IT solutions in the sector, with the cloud leading the innovation process.
The new offerings by Salesforce and Box are likely to become leaders in the regulated industries market given their already established reputation of reliable cloud providers. The precisely-defined features are likely to be welcomed by numerous organizations worldwide, significantly changing the landscape in the regulated industries, as previously mentioned.
However, this does not mean that their struggles associated with IT innovation will be over. Salesforce Shield and Box Governance may make a deep impact on the way regulated industries use the cloud, but a number of other IT challenges will remain.
This mostly relates to the trends of outsourcing IT components and managing their implementation, which will force these industries to keep improving their strategies until they’re sure they’ve found all the right solutions for their needs.