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Being a Model Minority is a Double-Edged Sword in Silicon Valley

By Jenn Fang // Quartz // March 31, 2015

Ellen Pao leaves the Civic Center Courthouse during a lunch break in her trial in San Francisco.
Ellen Pao leaves the Civic Center Courthouse during a lunch break in her trial in San Francisco. // Eric Risberg/AP

Three years ago, Ellen Pao—former junior partner of Silicon Valley venture capital group Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers—filed a lawsuit against her former employers, citing a culture of gender bias and sexual harassment targeting female employees. Earlier last week, lawyers in her suit against Kleiner completed their closing statements with a plea for greater efforts to address gender equality in the tech industry. And on Mar. 27, a jury failed to find Kleiner Perkins liable in Pao’s lawsuit.

Throughout the trial, Pao has endured the usual victim-blaming, character assassination and mudslinging used to dismiss, invalidate, and insubstantiate the experiences of women who speak out against gender discrimination. She has been tone policed. She has been slut-shamed. She has been labeled a gold digger. She has been accused of being untalented, amateurish, and unprofessional. The message Kleiner’s lawyers are trying to communicate is clear: Ellen Pao is a lone voice trying to capitalize off an imagined gender problem in Silicon Valley.

The problem for Silicon Valley is that Ellen Pao is not alone.

Earlier this month, Chia “Chloe” Hong filed a civil suit against Facebook for gender discrimination. Days later, software engineer Tina Huang filed a civil suit ...

White House Picks Former Twitter Exec as First Chief Digital Officer

By Hallie Golden // March 24, 2015

Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

After devoting years to such Silicon Valley companies as Google and Twitter, Jason Goldman announced Tuesday he would soon be helping a new entity strengthen its digital presence -- the federal government.

As part of its efforts to engage with members of the public on the Internet, the White House created the position of chief digital officer and asked Goldman to assume the new role, he said in a post on Medium

Beginning April 6, Goldman will take over leadership of the White House’s Office of Digital Strategy. He is expected to help the federal government step beyond the realm of simply broadcasting information into the public abyss and into forming more fully-fledged connections with citizens, according to his post.

“Broadcasting can create awareness,” he wrote in the post. “But connecting people can create engagement and change. Connecting involves an invitation to participate in something.”

Thanks to his previous work for both Twitter, Google and Google's blogging platform, Blogger, Goldman is no stranger to getting his message out via a range of digital platforms.  

“My job will be to use those online tools to create meaningful opportunities for American citizens to participate in our government,” Goldman explained.

Over the ...

Commerce Department's New Chief Data Officer No Stranger to Data

By Hallie Golden // March 16, 2015

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker // Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Eight months after Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced her department was looking to hire a chief data officer, a former presidential innovation fellow has stepped into the role.

On Friday, during the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, Pritzker announced the hiring of Ian Kalin as the Commerce Department’s inaugural CDO.

The same day, Kalin, a Navy lieutenant, confirmed the news via Twitter, saying he had accepted the job offer and was excited about the opportunity.

“I'm writing to confirm a rumor. I have returned to government service,” he posted in a second tweet.

Kalin is far from new to the data world. As a presidential innovation fellow working within the Energy Department, Kalin spearheaded the U.S. Energy Data Initiative, which works to unlock data from both the public and private sectors to ignite entrepreneurship.

Kalin's most recent role was serving as director of open data for Socrata, a startup specializing in cloud solutions for governments, according to his LinkedIn account. He has also worked with open data as a special project consultant for Google.

“The chief data officer holds the key to unlocking more government data to help support a data-enabled department and economy ...

Hiring in Tech Should Prioritize Skill, Not Charisma

By Thomas H. Ptacek // Quartz // March 16, 2015

wk1003mike/Shutterstock.com

One of the most important problems in technology is hiring qualified engineers, and yet our industry is terrible at it.

Years from now, we’ll look back at the 2015 developer interview as an anachronism, akin to hiring an orchestra cellist with a personality test and a quiz about music theory rather than a blind audition.

Successful interviewing demands a basket of skills that doesn’t correlate with job performance. The world is full of people who can speak expertly about programming, but can’t effectively code, while the majority of people who can code can’t do it well in an interview. Our hiring process is systematically mispricing candidates—and employers could profit from correcting this problem.

Job interviews are hostile experiences.

For many, I wonder if job interviews might be among the most hostile experiences in all of life. In no other normal experience will a group of people be impaneled to assess—adversarially!—one’s worthiness with respect to their life’s work. Don’t forget: even in the best circumstances, interviews must say “no” more often than “yes”.

I remember interviewing one of our best hires. We’d already done things to mitigate unreliable interviews. They ...

Survey: CISOs Still Fighting for Respect from the C-Suite

By Hallie Golden // March 13, 2015

Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock.com

Despite serving as an organization’s primary line of defense against the increasingly pervasive threat of a cyberattack, the position of chief information security officer is widely misunderstood and undervalued by C-level executives, according to a recent survey.

The report, which polled more than 200 executives at organizations with CISOs, was conducted by ThreatTrack Security, a cyber-defense firm. More than half of the survey respondents said they didn't think these security officials should have a say in one of the most influential aspects of their work -- deciding what cybersecurity tools to purchase.

At the same time, only a small minority of respondents -- 26 percent -- said CISOs should be part of an organization's senior leadership team, according to the report.

Even so, a clear majority of executive said they think security officers should still be held responsible internal data breaches. 

The contradictory opinion of wanting to give these security officials little authority, but blaming them when problems arise, could be simply a case of misunderstanding, according to the survey.

The role of CISO is less than a decade old, so many C-level executives may not yet have a clear understanding of where and how they fit in their ...