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Entries in Gender (2)

Saturday
May042013

Google Glass Highlights Tech World's Gender Disparity

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The marketing videos for Google’s Glass show a diverse group of people wearing the digital glasses. But a new website has popped up that points out that the first group of people wearing them might not exactly be so heterogeneous.

A new Tumblr page, White Men Wearing Google Glass, features a number of pictures of, yes, white men wearing the glasses. “In its favour, if Google Glass didn’t exist, all these Silicon Valley guys would be having affairs or buying unsuitable motorbikes,” the tagline of the blog reads.

The site, which is run by an anonymous author, has been shared thousands of times in the last few days on Twitter.

When reached by ABC News, Google would not comment on the ratio of male to female Google Glass explorers, which is the group of people who applied to test the first round of the product.

Google has begun testing the Explorer Edition of the glasses, which overlay digital information in the world, in the last few weeks with select application developers and early adopters. Yes, one of the men even tested them in the shower.

“Glass is designed by and for people from all walks of life and we hope everyone will have a chance to enjoy it down the road. Our next step is to make Glass available to participants of our #ifihadglass initiative, which was designed to bring a diverse group of people into the Explorer program,” Google said in a statement.

The #ifihadglass initiative opened up Glass availability to the public. The current wave of glasses are being given to those who signed up at the Google I/O developer conference last year when the glasses were first previewed. However, the #ifihadglass contest, which was launched this year, allowed anyone to submit their ideas of what they would do with the glasses.

But while Google might not be firing back at the Tumblr, another group is – women. In response to the original site, a new Tumblr called Women with Glass has popped up. The site was started by Christina Warren, a senior writer at Mashable.com, and a few other female technology journalists who have been testing Glass.

“I thought, ‘Why do we not have a women-with-Glass Tumblr? We aren’t unicorns!’” Warren told ABC News.

Warren admitted there are “considerably less women” Explorers, mostly because there are fewer female software developers.

“Most of the first females to have this are journalists,” Warren said. “Other than those at Google proper, there doesn’t seem to be that many female developers who have the Explorer Edition.

The underrepresentation of women in the tech world, especially the world of software developers and coders, is nothing new – though there has been a great effort to change that. Groups like Girls Who Code and Change the Ratio have been formed with the goals of recruiting and supporting more females in the technology world. In fact, Google will be holding a women in technology gathering at its upcoming Google I/O conference.

“When you are talking about developers, you are looking at a more lopsided gender ratio,” Rachel Sklar, the founder of Change the Ratio, told ABC News. “It highlights what we already know is an issue, which is that we have a very homogenous class of people with access to next-gen technology.”

But while it might not be the norm, there are some female software developers out there not only wearing Glass but making apps for it. Macy Kuang, 25, ordered her pair last year at Google I/O and received them last week.

“I started working on a bike-sharing app last night. I want to be able to use them to find where a nearby bike station is,” Kuang told ABC News.  ”I don’t have any plans to make other apps, but there are a lot of possibilities.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

High Court Sides With Wal-Mart in Gender-Bias Lawsuit

Spencer Platt / Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stopped one of the largest employment discrimination cases in history from going forward. The case was brought by six female Wal-Mart employees who said they had been paid less than men in comparable positions despite having higher performance ratings and greater seniority.

The case had blossomed into a class action lawsuit involving hundreds of thousands of female employees. The court was unanimous in saying that the case should not have been certified by the lower courts because it failed to meet the certification requirements for seeking damages of monetary relief.

However, the court's five conservative justices went further. They found that the women also failed to demonstrate that there were questions of law common to the entire class of nearly 1.5 million female employees.

"The court rejects the notion that Wal-Mart had a policy of discrimination that could form any kind of fair basis for a civil-rights class-action case," the ruling stated.

The plaintiffs had claimed they could prove Wal-Mart discriminated against all women employees by statistics, by alleging that the company's corporate culture was suffused with gender stereotypes, and by pointing to the company's practice of allowing local managers wide discretion in hiring and promoting, which supposedly allowed those stereotypes to impact the lives of women employees.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summed up the argument: "Managers, like all humankind, may be prey to biases of which they are unaware. The risk of discrimination is heightened when those managers are predominantly of one sex, and are steeped in a corporate culture that perpetuates gender stereotypes."

Scalia laughed this argument out of court, essentially. He called it "unbelievable," "worlds away from significant proof" of discrimination, and declared the court could "safely disregard" everything the plaintiffs' key expert had to say.

"In a company of Wal-Mart's size and scope," Scalia wrote, "it is quite unbelievable that all managers would exercise their discretion in a common way without some common *direction.*" (emphasis added) "Merely showing that Wal-Mart's policy of discretion has produced an overall sex-based disparity does not suffice."

This is strongly pro-business ruling. It will make it harder for plaintiffs' lawyers to construct class actions in many fields, since what the court does here is tighten the law's demand that members of a class have suffered a truly, provably "common" wrong.

Walmart said the class action could include "every woman employed for any period of time over the past decade in any of Walmart's approximately 3,400 stores….the millions of class members collectively seek billions of dollars in monetary relief."

The action stems from a sexual discrimination suit filed by six women who worked in 13 stores who alleged they had been paid less than men in comparable positions, despite having higher performance ratings and greater seniority.

In court papers, lawyers for the women said that the case needed to proceed as a class action because Walmart exercised a strong centralized corporate culture, and that class litigation "may be the only means of obtaining the broad injunctive relief necessary to address the allegedly discriminatory policies challenged."

The women were seeking injunctive relief, back pay and punitive damages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio