Frontend development + UX + Accessibility

How to empower women in a digital world

Flags of all member nations lining an avenue.
The UN in Geneva.

Last week I had the chance to visit the United Nations Office in Geneva for the first time. The reason for my visit was the "Closing the Gender Gap in the Digital World" event organised by ITU and Facebook Developer Circles.

Michal Švácha, a Senior Software Engineer from Developer Circles Facebook posed a question for each of the panelists:

“What is one thing that men can do to help close the gap and make the tech world better for women?”

The panelists all provided well thought out changes that we can make to combat inequality at home and at work.

Say “I need to pick up my child”

Natacha Gajdoczki, Women in Digital

Take the lead to pick up the children from school. So when men and women are being hired, the employers will think that it’s the same.

(Plus it gives your partner a bit of extra time, and you some extra quality time with your child. Bonus!)

Promote women in STEM by making them visible

Monika Ambrozowicz, RightsTech Women

Write about women and talk about women. Allow them to show up in data-sets and search results.

Amazon used an AI for evaluating prospective employees, and the AI automatically thought women were less good, because that's what the (biased) dataset told it.

Flora Barriele, Geek Girls Carrots

Tell your boss and people you know that you know this woman is doing amazing work and deserve a promotion.

Ask girls and women in my family if they want a career in ICT

Dr. Hanane Naciri, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Simply by talking about working in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) we convey the idea that it's perfectly normal for women to work there as well. Role models matter!

Combat gender stereotypes at all levels

Hannah Short, Women in Technology, CERN

Don’t just give “boy’s toys” (cars, machines etc.) to girls, but give typical “girl’s toys” to boys as well. Yes, boys like playing with dolls too!

Don’t default to making the woman in a meeting taking the minutes, bringing coffee etc. Ask a man to do it.

Reflect on your own bias, and your own gender roles

Dr. Barbara Ondrisek, Woman && Code

Dr. Ondrisek provided not just one, but a whole list of suggestions:

For your children

What can men do?

Most technologies are developed by men, for men

Morgan Rivière, AI Research Engineer at Facebook

When you are designing software, you design it in a certain way.

A facial recognition AI had a +90% success rate identifying young white men, but single digit success rate for women of colour. There clearly is room for improvement.

﹡ Unfortunately I didn't note down the exact numbers.


This post was originally posted on my dev.to feed.

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