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We need more women in tech design – and that is not because they will make it look better – no, women will make tech work better!
Design is not how something looks, but how something works. Unless representatives of half of the population of the world have a say in how tech products should work, how will tech do better?
Last year, I had written here an article based on my personal experience as a consumer in the internet economy. It evoked a phenomenal response from women readers saying they faced the same frustrations too. That left me wondering about these companies that were trying to lure us women customers – how many women decision makers do they have in their ranks? Are there enough women in tech design – whether it is developing their workflows, poring over their UI/UX, deciding on how the algorithms are getting built?
Look at the global tech giants – in 2015, following were the percentages of women in technical roles in these companies:
That opened up many eyes and over the next year, millions of dollars, effort and time were spent in improving hiring practices and retention strategies. In 2016, Google reported 19% and Facebook 17% women in their technical positions. Even more worryingly, the number of women taking up tech education at universities, taking up tech roles in companies and staying in tech careers is actually declining. What contributes to that is another debate, but what stands out is the need to have more women in tech.
That diversity brings out the best, is well known. Many organizations are consciously trying to improve gender diversity in their workforce. Let us pause for a minute and think about why it is needed. After all, companies have a business objective to achieve and should they care about who gets them to the goalpost – how many men and how many women? Of course, there is an angle of social responsibility and equality and all good words. But in my mind, there is a strong case of business logic that should be examined.
Larger numbers of women today are going to work outside homes, they are earning, they make spending decisions, they make business decisions at their workplaces. Technology is omnipresent today. Women are constantly interacting with technology. Unless a tech product appeals to them, they are not going to buy it. Billions are being invested in designing fashion e-commerce sites. Women are buyers. Companies better know what will make them buy! Consumer behavior drives the fortunes of companies. When an equal or large part of your revenue is supposed to come from women, should you not understand them well?
Do women read product reviews before buying? Do men? Do women click on Google ads more or FB ads? Are they more likely to go by Instagram or Pinterest images or do they look for videos? Do they prefer paying via e-wallets or credit cards? Do they like a highly technical User Manual or is a quick video what they prefer? Will they love virtual trial rooms or still stand in long queues to the fitting room in a store? Do women like SmartArt diagrams or do they tend to use more images off the web in their presentations? How many women entrepreneurs use G-suite, do they use QuickBooks or Tally, do they use Zoho? How does one know? Well, the same way one knows about men and the population is general – through surveys, observations, experiments and all of that. And yet, interpretation of data requires a nuanced understanding that sometimes comes from being in the same shoes.
More women making decisions will bring out more products friendlier to a larger population. More women deciding on communication design will lead to better and more realistic portrayal of women in advertising – hopefully. More women in tech design will inspire diversity and innovation in the way tech products work.
I see that diversity at my area of work every single day. As part of the team at startup incubator at IIMB, I interact with hundreds of techie entrepreneurs every month. The diversity of ideas that women come in with is awe-inspiring and every single day I am reminded of how women are top-notch caregivers. I have seen ideas on safer pregnancies, children’s safety, nutrition, elderly care, communication within extended Indian families, disabilities, learning issues, holistic well-being and more, coming in significantly larger numbers from women entrepreneurs as compared to men. And what’s fascinating is how they weave technology into their offering to make care better, scalable, and more efficient.
In our recently concluded Women Startup Programme, we saw an amazing array of ideas from women in tech – ideas that go beyond just tech wizardry and are truly putting tech to good use. More power to them and more power to women in tech design!
Top image via Pixabay
Vrunda Bansode is a part of management team at NSRCEL - the Startup Hub at IIM Bangalore. She has co-founded two ventures in the education sector - CloudMentor.in and CodingLab.in. She was earlier with read more...
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It is easy to give in to patriarchal expectations from a married woman and lose your self in a marriage, but the path to happiness is in keeping your independence.
Marriage is often described as the joining of two individuals’ bodies, minds, and souls. Upon getting married, you are expected to share everything with your partner, including time, money, and all other aspects of life. Your life should revolve around your spouse from beginning to end.
But is it necessary to spend every waking moment with the spouse? Are you not supposed to have a life apart from your spouse? And do these rules apply only to women or men as well?
Although both men and women may face this situation, women are generally expected to give up everything once they get married. Despite progress in several areas, expecting women to abandon their interests, passions, and friendships to align their lives with those of their spouses is still considered the norm.
The rising numbers of single women choosing this life shout out clear and loud that patriarchy and sexism will no longer break or chain us.
Another book on singlehood? It seems to be the season for books on the joys and freedom of being single. But Demystifying and Dignifying Singlehood: Life Journeys of Single Women Across the Globe by Uma Jain is different. The book does not glorify or glamourise the lives of single women in any way. These are real stories – with the good, the bad and the ugly, all there.
The book tells the stories of 15 single women across the world. A feeling of deep understanding and empathy fills you as you read the book and understand the challenges faced by the women who are single – by choice or chance. Some of the women chose to be single because they faced discrimination and even abuse as girl children. Some others had abusive marriages and sought divorce.
The tag line ‘Crafting pathways on rough terrains’ on the cover page is enough to tell you that this is a serious take on the issue of singlehood. If it focuses more on the rough than the smooth, that has been the reality for the 15 women.
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