Monday, July 28, 2014

Inequality of access and representation in tech

This post is part of the 100 Days Project
Day 18
So - it comes as no surprise to me to see that, particularly in the developing world, there is significant gendered inequality of access to the internet, or the expertise to locate information when it is available:
Twitter has recently published statistics on its own diversity in the interests of transparency and because it believes the make-up of its staff should reflect the users the company serves.  It some as no surprise there either that women make up only 10% of the tech workers in the company, while having much higher representation elsewhere.
The question on my mind right now is - how did these two situations come to be?  I recognise that the answer is a) complex and b) that despite the common issue of gender, inequality of access is not the same as inequality of representation.  Poverty and historical inequalities in rural environments have a lot to do with the former, for example.
While I passionately believe that vulnerable non-Western communities must address inequality of access in order to thrive, the fact that women in the West are often outside of tech continues to intrigue me. We've had good employment and educational opportunities since before the tech boom, but somehow tech has still become a 'gendered' career path.  Which leaves woman as non-participants in decisions which affect us deeply, while missing out on some truly astounding salaries, work flexibility and lots of other perks.  Is it identity politics?  Gendered educational expectations?  Or something else?    

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