Inlägg taggade med ’gender equality’

Inspiring Diversity at HP



A few weeks ago, I lectured at HP on diversity and gender equality in the global IT world for their Inspiration Day 2013, which was themed ”Putting our differences to work.” I had an absolute blast, it was an awesome group of people, and the other speakers were great too. My talk focused on how to work with diversity as an organization: what it looks like right now in the IT industry, crucial arguments for diversity in IT, and best practices for becoming great at diversity. (HP is already doing really well in terms of gender equality, with 45/55% men and women in Executive management in Sweden).

Another great highlight of the day was meeting HP’s Managing Director of Norway, Anita Krohn Traaseth. Her talk was entitled ”Confessions of a Managing Director,” and she was hilarious. She focused on individual-level actions that people can take to drive their own success, and she talked about her own success story. Her career started when she applied for a job at IBM with absolutely no experience and no degree in engineering, both of which were requirements. Instead of responding to the job ad with a resume and cover letter, she wrote a fake press release as if they had already hired her: ”As expected, IBM has hired Ms. Krohn Traaseth and welcome her to our team. Her long experience and creativity will be a welcome part of our team…” and so forth. Actually, out of 10 ”qualifications” for the job, she only had one: a good attitude. But that didn’t stop her. She didn’t get the job, but the hiring team found her response so interesting and creative that they invited her to a weekend for the executives at IBM, and she went, and got hired for a different role. Done!

Of course Anita now has 17+ years of experience in management and IT roles, so a lot has changed from that beginning. But she’s still obviously really creative. One of her first actions when she assumed the MD role was to invite everyone in the company to have an individual, 5-minute meeting with her. She asked them 3 questions, including where are the biggest bottlenecks in the organization, and what’s the key to keeping the culture. The input of her colleagues helped her decide strategy.

I love meeting women who are crushing it in IT, and that’s why I wanted to share this story with you. I also really enjoy working with organizations that have creative people working to promote diversity. HP has lots of both (the pic above is me with Malin Löfstedt, the mastermind behind this great event), and that’s why it was such a great day. For all of you who want to learn more about Anita, check out her blog: And remember – diversity and creativity go hand in hand!

Publicerad den 3 december, 2013 av Alice Marshall
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GoldieBlox and Gender Equality in Engineering

This video is awesome:

Awesome Goldieblox ”Girls” Commercial

Watching this video took me right back to my childhood. Oh, the days of building forts and playing games! Then I started thinking about how protected I was from the complete gender bias in every element of children’s toys. Why? Because I grew up playing with my two brothers everyday, who are respectively two years older and 3 years younger than me. Since we didn’t have tons of extra money, we shared toys. So I grew up playing with teenage mutant ninja turtles (my Mom hated Barbies anyway), Gameboy (notice the boy), Mario on Playstation (notice another boy), Goldeneye and Sega Genesis. Sure, I had a few dolls too. I also didn’t have TV until I was around 11 (incidentally when we started playing Playstation), so we played a lot of analog games like Monopoly, and spent tons of time outside building cool things like snow forts. This protected me  somewhat from the gender bias in girl’s toys, but obviously most of the toys I was playing with were marketed specifically for boys.

Obviously GoldieBlox hasn’t moved away from marketing toys specifically to girls, which I still don’t agree with. As my entire childhood shows, both girls and boys often like the same toys – it’s just about making cool stuff. However, at least Goldieblox’s games are aimed at making kids smarter and more into science, and judging by the 8.5 million youtube views (the original video got taken down), everyone else likes this concept too.

One thing I want to mention here is that there are a lot of female engineers already. I hear the argument every day that ”we need more female engineers” because I work with a lot of high-tech companies as a gender equality and diversity consultant. First of all, the number of female engineers has risen dramatically. Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology’s 5-year civil engineering program gave out degrees to 30% women and 70% men in 2012. So don’t tell me there’s no women in engineering.

There are, however, some areas of engineering and computer science, specifically programming, that have suffered from low amounts of women for many years. I propose several solutions:

1.  Everyone needs to take responsibility for giving their kids/neieces/nephews/friends’ kids/grandkids, etc. toys that enrich their life and make them smart, not limit them according to their gender.

2. Schools starting from kindergarten all the way to college need to get better at ensuring that there’s not gender bias in teaching or recruiting and work actively to reduce gender segregation (this goes both for boys and girls). Schools have successfully worked to ensure equality in their computer science programs before, like Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon Increased % Women in Comp Science from 7% to 42%. It can be done!

3. Engineering and tech companies need to actively recruit for diverse groups in a number of ways, not just via networking. Look around you. If everyone else at your company looks like you, your diversity initiatives have failed. It’s time to think outside the box!

If you need help or tips, email me:




Publicerad den 29 november, 2013 av Alice Marshall
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Sweden’s Closet Racists

Here is an article that recently was written in the New York Times by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, a Swedish novelist and author. It tells the heartbreaking story of institutional racism experienced by a native Swede, throughout his childhood and adulthood, because he is not white. I dare you to read this piece and come out thinking that racial profiling by the police or any other institution is in any way a good thing for society.

Publicerad den 24 april, 2013 av Alice Marshall
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I’ll make $1.2 million less than my male classmates

Here’s some food for thought while you celebrate these lovely holidays with family. Research shows that, with my fancy college degree, I will earn, on average, $1.2 million less over my career than my male college classmates. This is because my average starting wage is lower, and therefore all raises are also lower, since raises are based on initial wages.

Actually, it’s even worse since I have my Master’s degree. Women with Medical degrees, Master’s degrees, or other advanced degrees will make $2 million on average less over their careers than male colleagues with the same job. (WAGE Project)

Granted, these numbers are for the US. But if you think that this problem doesn’t exist in Sweden, think again. In the 2012 ”Women And Men” by SCB, female professionals working in Marketing, Finance, and HR make 80% of what men do. Women working in Sales, Real Estate and related professions make 81% of what men make. You can download ”Women and Men 2012″ here.

Give yourself and your family a Christmas present that won’t stop giving this year – the gift of knowledge. Find out the average pay for your job, education and experience level and make sure you’re earning at least that. Also, make sure that your company, your Mom’s company, and your sister’s company are doing wage surveys every 3 years, as the Swedish law requires. Companies with 25+ employees have to do the wage survey every 3 years plus an action plan for gender-equal pay. If they need help, we at Add Gender can assist them. We’re talking about a lot of money here – more than a few extra Christmas presents under the tree!

Let’s fix the wage gap, one person at a time!

Publicerad den 19 december, 2012 av Alice Marshall
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