Why celebrating women working in digital industries remains as important as ever
It’s International Women’s Day. As I write this, #internationalwomensday is trending on Twitter and is dominating the news agenda. This should be a day for celebrating ‘girl power’, yet what I am actually listening to is a report on annual statistics that show how gender inequality remains strong.
It appears that this is also true of the digital sector. I remember the male dominated digital gatherings, glittery awards and investment meetings at the height of the dot com boom and it seems little has changed in the last 15 years
An article in the current Observer Tech monthly, suggests that in Silicon Valley the following three things are true. One, that only 11% of executives and only 20% of software developers there are female. Two, that only four of the Forbes list of 100 leading tech investors are women. And three, that men in the Valley earn up to 61% more than their female equivalents
But why is this still the case? In what can be one of the most creative, enlightened and forward thinking of sectors – where anyone with a laptop can start a business – why are women still so under-represented and what can we do to change this?
First of all, well done the Germans, who last week announced legislation that requires women must make up at least 30% of the supervisory boards of more than 10 of their largest listed companies (this follows similar gender quota legislation in several European countries including Norway, France, Spain and the Netherlands). But positive discrimination is only part of the answer. Any business must select the best talent, regardless of gender, race or background, so the key must be to make sure that this talent pool consists of as many women as men.
We need to support and celebrate the industry’s female role models. It is our job to provide the inspiration for the next generation. We need to show them that anything is possible. If we can persuade more girls to grow their early interest in mobile technology and gaming into their studies, then the sector will naturally build a greater digital girls’ network that could ultimately re-balance the gender difference.
This is why events such as this month’s Spring Forward festival (@WeSpringForward) are so important. Taking place in Brighton this month, it consists of a series of events and meetings aimed at celebrating and supporting women working in the digital sector and to help encourage that early digital education.
And it’s festivals like this that ultimately make me optimistic. Let’s celebrate digital girl power and help inspire the upcoming generation, who will make that brighter future a more equal and inclusive place.
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This post was written by Vicki Hughes