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The best and worst places to be a working woman
The Economist’s glass-ceiling index measures gender equality in the labour market
Mar 8th 2017
by THE DATA TEAM
MARCH 8th is International Women’s Day, a date designated by the UN to celebrate and advocate for women’s rights. To provide a benchmark for progress on gender equality in the labour market, The Economist has published its fifth annual “glass-ceiling index”. It combines data on higher education, workforce participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs into a single measure of where women have the best—and worst—chances of equal treatment in the workplace. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on ten indicators.
The overall picture painted by the data is that the long trend of improving conditions for working women has flatlined within the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. In 2005, 60% of women were in the labour force; ten years later, this ratio had edged up only slightly to 63% (it was 80% for men in both years). With relatively few women climbing the ranks, and strong old-boys’ networks helping men reach the top, female representation in well-paid and high-status jobs is closer to a third than half. And the gender wage gap—male minus female wages, divided by male wages—is still around 15%, meaning women as a group earn 85% of what men do.
These broad averages conceal wide variation between countries. The Nordic countries clearly lead the world on gender equality at work. The top four positions this year belong to Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland, just as they did in 2016 (though Sweden and Norway did switch places). Women in these countries are more likely than men to have a university degree and be in the labour force. They make up 30-44% of company boards, compared with an average of 20% across the OECD. And voluntary political-party gender quotas mean that women are well-represented in parliaments. In October, women won a record 48% of the seats in Iceland’s lower house. At around two-fifths, Scandinavian women’s share of parliamentary seats ranks in the top 10% globally.
At the other end of the index are Japan, Turkey and South Korea. Women make up only around 15% of parliaments in these countries, and are underrepresented in management positions and on company boards. In South Korea, just 2% of corporate directors are female. Similarly, fewer women than men have completed tertiary education and are part of the labour force. Only 35% of Turkish women are working or looking for work, and a mere 16% have graduated from university.
Progress in gender equality has a tendency to build upon itself. In Iceland, which currently provides the most equal working environment for women according to our index, female workers staged a protest last October in which they marched out of their offices early to call attention to the country′s 14% gender pay gap. If Japanese women were to do likewise, they would be leaving much earlier. Subatomic opportunitiesQuantum leaps
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Last month I saw Gloria Steinem and Octavia Spencer speak on a panel about the film Hidden Figures at the Makers Conference. An audience member posited the question, “How do we find the other hidden figures in history?”
“We have to be tenacious,” Spencer responded. “If you don’t know the story, how can you seek it out? First we have to ask questions and we have to acknowledge every person on a team. Women couldn’t put their name on reports and men took the credit for all their work, I mean come on.”
That got me thinking. What have I been missing? I am a woman who writes about transportation, often looking forward trying to measure disparities that still exist, but not always spending enough time looking back to understand how we arrived here.
In virtually every aspect of industrial innovation, women have played an essential part of forming that history. When the women were left out of the decision making, it was never for a lack of interest, but rather for lack of opportunity. And when women did do something significant, it often took many years for their contributions to be acknowledged, if at all. When commended, their achievements were heralded as something noteworthy because it wasn’t deemed normal for women to participate in the process of progress.
The rise of the automobile coincided with the rise of the struggle for women’s rights. In 1914, French-born Dorothée Pullinger tried to join the Institution of Automobile Engineers, but was denied entry because she was a woman. She persisted and was finally granted access in 1920, the year American women gained the right to vote. She later oversaw production at the Galloway Motor Car Company in Scotland, and moonlighted as a race car driver as well. In 1921, the first African-American pilot Bessie Colemanreceived her flying license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Almost from the beginning women drivers made their mark on society. Bertha Benz, the wife of Mercedes-Benz founder Karl, took the first cross country road trip in Germany in 1888, but only recently has been celebrated for her contributions. In the summer of 1909, Alice Ramsay and three other women traveled from New York City to San Francisco in a Maxwell, a journey she wrote about in the 1961 book Veil, Duster and Tire Iron. She became the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in the year 2000, 91 years after the fact. That’s a long time to wait for props.
Here and there women show up in the transportation history books. The most notable was Harriet Tubman, who liberated over 300 people by navigating the Underground Railroad. Marta Coston was issued a patent for development of the telegraphic night signals in 1859 for maritime use. Mary Walton was issued patents for her work on railroads reducing noise pollution in the 1880s and Olive Dennis contributed to the development of B&O railroads as an engineer. Some women are mentioned for their work at burgeoning car companies throughout the 20th century. Automobile Magazine reported Betty Thatcher Oros worked as a Hudson designer in the 1930s, and Helene Rother became the first female designer at GM in 1943. Audrey Moore Hodges worked at both Studebaker and Tucker in the 1940s. In 1937, Willa Brown became the first African American commercial pilot.
In the grand scheme of things, these women’s contributions are significant, but are overshadowed by their male colleagues, and the stereotypes, stigma, and barriers that kept them from going far in big numbers. But what about the others, women who made things, pushed boundaries, and innovated who we are still unknown? I am certain they existed, but they have have sailed under the radar, or like the women portrayed in Hidden Figures, been carelessly or deliberately left out of the stories. For every Mary Barra and Amelia Earhart, there are many more Jane Does.
In the post-war car boom, women became a driving force in the marketplace. Some male executives and marketers, eager to sell cars to women, began to experiment with different ways to appeal to female customers. Outside of automotive enthusiast circles, it’s a little known fact that GM hired a group of women designers from the Pratt Institute to work in the GM design studios in the late 1950s. The design chief Harley Earl called them the Damsels of Design, a terrible name, but one that shouldn’t take away from the show cars they developed for the— wait for it— Feminine Auto Show held in 1958. But it’s been reported that the designers had strict limits on what they could touch in the car interior; the instrument panel was off limits. But despite restrictions, some of their innovations were pioneering such as light-up mirrors, glove compartments, and child proof doors.
Faster, first, speed, aggression: When I think about the metaphors of progress, motorsports is among the more profound. Women’s impact on racing is an extraordinary achievement considering women were banned from racing in various organizations and then were relegated to special races for women only. But some women felt that racing wasn’t a gendered pursuit. I met one of these extraordinary women, Denise McCluggage, a journalist who went head to head with motorsports giants and continued to document the industry well into her 80s. Other stand outs include Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indy 500 in 1977 and Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to receive a drag racing license and the inspiration for the film Heart Like A Wheel, the L7 song “Shirley,” and the Le Tigre Song “Hot Topic.” In the mid 1970s “Nitro Nellie”Goinsbroke barriers as an African-American woman drag racer, who was inducted into the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame in 2014.
Once these stories of women who worked in all aspects of the field are unearthed, their capacity to inspire is profound. These stories defy what we’ve been taught. At that Makers talk, Gloria Steinem also said, “We still do not know history. It’s still a political history that we are learning.”
For every high profile trailblazer, there’s the behind-the-scenes woman whose story is waiting to be discovered, in the foreground of a photo, in the fine print, or in a tiny smudged corner of the ledger. What I do know is that I’m grateful to all of them, because in some way each made it a little bit more easy to for me navigate this strange space in the car industry where women are still widely underrepresented.
So in honor of all the women whose stories were silenced in transportation, science, arts and culture, and the technology we cover at The Verge, today I strike in solidarity. Finding my way here was an adventure, but it’s nothing compared to what came before me, when women who spoke out had to watch their backs. Tomorrow is a new day in the massive work ahead of looking, listening, and unearthing the truth that will help us remember how important it is to fight for our place in the future.
How I became the director of engineering at Lyft: Jill Wetzler
By Susannah Hutcheson 7:59 pm EST February 28, 2017
Welcome to our new series “How I Became a …,” where we’re digging into the stories of accomplished and influential people and finding out how they got to where they are in their careers. We’re finding out what their biggest challenges, their biggest passions and their biggest pieces of wisdom are — for you.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited.
Behind the numbers and code that runs Lyft stands director of engineering Jill Wetzler.
Lyft’s director of engineering, Jill Wetzler.
The Carnegie Mellon grad had management stints at Salesforce and Twitter before making her way to the managerial team at Lyft, a ride sharing company.
USA TODAY College caught up with Wetzler — who was just named one of the most powerful female engineers of 2017 — to talk teamwork, being a woman in tech and always remembering to know your worth.
What’s your coffee order?
I’m more of an iced tea girl. I have an iced tea maker on my counter that I use every morning. Black iced tea, nothing in it.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
For several years I was a mentor in TechWomen, an exchange program that brings women from the Middle East or Africa to Silicon Valley for a month to work on a project. I had the opportunity to travel to one of the countries, and I went to Rwanda with a delegation and spent a couple of weeks there. It was a mix of professional stuff and fun stuff; I went on a safari, gorilla trekking, visiting technical colleges in Kigali and seeing their start-up accelerators. It was the experience of a lifetime.
Who’s your mentor?
I don’t just have one, but my closest mentor is my boss, Pete. I’ve worked with him for about 10 years and he’s somebody that I feel has really taught me a lot about management and leadership. I trust him and he trusts me, and he’s a big part of the reason I wanted to come work at Lyft. There are also a lot of other people I reach out to.
What exactly does your job entail?
My title is Director of Engineering. What I do is build engineering teams that help Lyft scale — at this point, to more than 18 million rides a month. Some of the teams build the infrastructure that make the app stay up with high demand, others build tools to help ship code quickly and safely.
I really want to build leaders who are constantly able to grow, who are able to learn, who are able to take ownership, and who will step out of their comfort zone.
What does your career path look like, from college to Lyft?
I majored in computer science at Carnegie Mellon. To be honest, I just picked my major a little bit randomly. I had never taken programming classes, but I did have a computer and I loved kind of tinkering around on it. CMU had a great reputation, so I picked it and hoped it would stick. I also have passions for a lot of other things, so I minored in creative writing with a focus on poetry.
Related: Calling all computer science majors: jobs are waiting for you
In between my junior and senior year I interned at BodyMedia, a company that was doing wearable tech. That was a really cool experience, to kind of work with a startup.
After graduation I moved to San Francisco to work at Salesforce, where I started working as a software engineer. I worked with a variety of different teams, mostly developer platforms — for customers that were external but consuming our API’s and platforms. After about six years, I went into a management position there.
Then, I was at Twitter for two years, managing developer-related platform teams. Our teams were building data API’s, so our customers were businesses who wanted to learn about who people were talking about their products or their competitors on Twitter. They used our API’s to make key business decisions about their companies.
I then came to Lyft, where I started managing a pretty small dev ops team; it was a little out of my comfort zone, but since then have grown that into multiple teams in charge of the scaleability of Lyft.
What are the best and worst parts of being a woman in a male-dominated field?
Women are powerful. We’re unique, we’re complex, and we approach problems differently — and I use that to my advantage in life and in work.
I think the worst part is that it’s so nice to feel like you can see yourself every day, in roles you aspire to and that you feel represented in. That’s not always the case in this industry.
So sometimes it gets a little lonely — but that’s also why I care deeply about the diversity of my teams and the diversity of Lyft.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Seeing somebody take a risk that they’ve never taken before and succeeding in it. I love when engineers and managers do something brave and do something that is outside of their comfort zone, and then to see them get rewarded for it. It’s all part of the professional development process. Ultimately my job is to unlock the potential of the people who work for me. … It’s really the most satisfying part of my career.
What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Always go somewhere that’s growing, whether a company or a team. If the company is growing, you’ll grow, too; you’re not really going to have a choice. There is too much work and not enough people, and that’s where you’re really going to stretched. I feel like every significant move in my career has been in a place with a very high growth.
Find people who will invest in you. Ultimately, these are the people that you have to come in and sit with every day. I would rather be particular with my team, my boss, my direct reports and my peers than the technology, or to some extent even the product. I’ve been pushed at multiple points to take on teams or products that I didn’t know much about or felt uncomfortable with, but I ultimately made a decision because someone really believed in me or I got a really good feeling from the people I was working with.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
Know your worth. If I feel stuck, or underutilized, or if I feel like I’m not getting to have the type of impact that I think I can have, I remind myself to know what I’m worth. Sometimes, that reminder causes me to do something bold.
So, maybe I’ll go look for another job or another team or reach out to someone that I follow on Twitter who I really want to get coffee with. It’s always those times that have had the biggest impact on my career.
Susannah Hutcheson is a Texas A&M student and a USA TODAY College digital producer.
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In Video, Uber CEO Argues With Driver Over Falling Fares
Travis Kalanick tells a driver to take responsibility for his problems and boasts about a tough culture.
by Eric Newcomer
Tue Feb 28 12:39:48 2017
Tue Feb 28 18:30:32 2017
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick
When Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick takes an Uber, he prefers a black car, the high-end service his company introduced in 2010. On this particular night in early February—Super Bowl Sunday—Kalanick is perched in the middle seat, flanked by two female friends. Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” plays, and Kalanick shimmies. He clutches his smartphone as the three make awkward conversation. The two women ask when his birthday is, and marvel that he’s a Leo. One of his companions appears to say, somewhat inaudibly, that she’s heard that Uber is having a hard year. Kalanick retorts, “I make sure every year is a hard year.” He continues, “That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”
There’s no question that it’s been a hard year for Kalanick and Uber—or really, a bad year compressed down into an awful three months. And it keeps getting worse. That pleasant conversation between Kalanick and his friends in the back of an Uber Black? It devolved into a heated argument over Uber’s fares between the CEO and his driver, Fawzi Kamel, who then turned over a dashboard recording of the conversation to Bloomberg. Kamel, 37, has been driving for Uber since 2011 and wants to draw attention to the plight of Uber drivers. The video shows off Kalanick’s pugnacious personality and short temper, which may cause some investors to question whether he has the disposition to lead a $69 billion company with a footprint that spans the globe.
In an email to staff Tuesday after publication of this story, Kalanick apologized to Kamel for treating him disrespectfully. “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick wrote. “My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”
In December, Uber pulled its self-driving cars off the road in San Francisco after the California Department of Motor Vehicles said they were operating illegally without an autonomous vehicle license. In January, more than 200,000 people uninstalled their accounts, and #DeleteUber trended on Twitter, after the company was accused of undermining a New York taxi union strike protesting President Donald Trump’s refugee ban. On Feb. 2, Kalanick reluctantly left his spot on Trump’s business advisory council to appease the company’s liberal-leaning employees and users—not to mention its many immigrant drivers. On Feb. 19, a former software engineer at Uber wrote a blog post alleging that she had been propositioned for sex by her manager and that when she’d taken the issue to human resources, an HR rep had said that he wouldn’t be punished, in part, because he was a “high performer.” On Feb. 23, Alphabet’s autonomous car company Waymo sued Uber and its self-driving car company Otto, accusing an Uber employee of stealing trade secrets by downloading 14,000 files onto an external hard drive. On Monday, Uber’s head of engineering resigned after the company said it learned that he had faced a sexual harassment complaint at Alphabet, his former employer. He denied the allegations.
“Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit.”
The company has responded to the former engineer’s allegations by hiring the former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to investigate the female software engineer’s claims. “What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” Kalanick wrote on Twitter. On Waymo’s claims that Uber has stolen trade secrets, an Uber spokeswoman said, “We have reviewed Waymo’s claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor, and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court.”
Despite it all, Uber’s business is growing, week after week. This is the service that Kalanick and his friend, Garrett Camp, dreamed up. Get a car in an instant, just like James Bond. They weren’t the first people to have that idea, but they were the ones who won—or at least the ones who have gotten the furthest. Camp stepped back and became chairman of the board, while Kalanick turned Uber into a global endeavor that operates in more than 400 cities. The company, which has its headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco, has more than 11,000 corporate employees. It has many more drivers—millions of them, scattered all over the world, working as independent contractors, without the health care and other benefits typically provided to full-time employees.
And the gig has gotten harder for longtime drivers. In 2012, Uber Black cost riders $4.90 per mile or $1.25 per minute in San Francisco, according to an old version of Uber’s website. Today, Uber charges $3.75 per mile and $0.65 per minute. Black car drivers get paid less and their business faces far more competition from other Uber services.
“That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”
Kalanick has a reputation for being ferociously competitive and hard-charging. He’s the guy who has bragged about having earned the second-highest rank on Nintendo’s Wii tennis game. He’s still dogged by the fact that he once referred to Uber as “Boob-er” because it improved his dating prospects. Current and former employees say he can be empathetic when the mood strikes—or tyrannical when it doesn’t. Kalanick loves fighting over a good idea, which sometimes means admitting that his isn’t the best one. “Toe-stepping” is one of Uber’s cultural values.
Kalanick is trying to be a better listener. He met with more than 100 of Uber’s female employees at a meeting last week meant to address the morale crisis that followed the former software engineer’s blog post. Kalanick sounded some of the right notes, standing in front of the crowd. “There are people in this room who have experienced things that are incredibly unjust,” he said, according to a recording obtained by Buzzfeed. “I empathize with you, but I can never fully understand, and I get that. I want to root out the injustice. I want to get at the people who are making this place a bad place, and you have my commitment to make that happen, and I know it doesn’t end there.”
Like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg before him, Kalanick is trying to learn how to empathize and communicate. But Kalanick at 40, compared with 32-year-old Zuckerberg, is having to change his ways later in life, and he’s often reluctant to tread too far from his intuitions. Even when Kalanick tries to empathize in his own way—which often means jumping into a dialectical argument of sorts— his temper can occasionally flare.
In Kamel’s car, for example, Kalanick is seemingly at ease as the ride ends and his friends hop out of the car.
“You have a good one,” says the driver.
Kalanick says with an air of familiarity, “Good to see you man.”
Kamel replies, “Good to see you, too.”
Kalanick thinks the ride is over. But having the CEO in his car is an opportunity Kamel has been waiting for.
“I don’t know if you remember me, but it’s fine,” Kamel says. The pair begin talking shop, and Kalanick explains that they’re going to cut down on the number of black cars, which will reduce competition and should be good for Kamel.
Then Kamel says what every driver has been dying to tell Kalanick: “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.”
Kalanick: “We’re not dropping the prices on black.”
Kamel: “But in general the whole price is—”
Kalanick: “We have to; we have competitors; otherwise, we’d go out of business.”
Kamel: “Competitors? Man, you had the business model in your hands. You could have the prices you want, but you choose to buy everybody a ride.”
Kalanick: “No, no no. You misunderstand me. We started high-end. We didn’t go low-end because we wanted to. We went low-end because we had to because we’d be out of business.”
Kamel: “What? Lyft? It’s a piece of cake right there.”
Kalanick: “It seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been beaten, I promise.”
The two bat that idea around, and Kamel brings the conversation back to his losses.
Kamel: “But people are not trusting you anymore. … I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. Yes, yes, yes. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.”
Kalanick: “Hold on a second, what have I changed about Black? What have I changed?”
Kamel: “You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.”
Kalanick: “On black?”
Kamel: “Yes, you did.”
Kalanick begins to lose his temper. “Bullshit,” he says.
Kamel: “We started with $20.”
Kamel: “We started with $20. How much is the mile now, $2.75?”
Kalanick: “You know what?”
Kalanick: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
Kamel: “Good luck to you, but I know [you’re not] going to go far.”
The door slams. Kamel drives away. Later, the Uber driver app prompts him to rate Kalanick, as he does all his riders. Kamel gives him one star.