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WiCipedia: How Disruption Will Affect Women & Int'l Tech Liberation Has Issues

Eryn Leavens
6/14/2019
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This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Girls in Tech makes biggest fundraising effort yet; Microsoft takes its Women in Cloud initiative on the road; women in developing countries pay the price for tech; and more.

  • A new study from McKinsey Global Institute says that women will have more difficulty acclimating to the coming tech disruption than men will, The Institution of Engineering and Technology explains. "The same opportunities as those offered to men would not be guaranteed [to women]. On accessing adequate mobility, skills and tech-readiness in the age of automation, women could face 'pervasive barriers on all three of them,' the report states. This would make navigating the transition in the future of work for women much more difficult, also increasing gender inequality if not addressed in time," the article unpacks. The article specifically focuses on the UK, though we don't see why this issue would differ elsewhere. It says that the unpaid training that most new career paths will require will be an impediment to women, who often have way more responsibility within the home and family than men. (See WiCipedia: The AI Diversity Struggle, Companies Aren't Prioritizing Equality & New-Mom Decisions and WiCipedia: Fembots Create Gender Divide & Snap Tackles Culture Issues.)

    While Alexa & Siri May Corner the Market on Virtual Assistants...
    ...we aren't sure how gendered the coming AI takeover will be yet. (Source: Pixabay)
    ...we aren't sure how gendered the coming AI takeover will be yet.
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • Non-profit Girls in Tech announced that it received its largest-ever donation recently -- a whopping $400,000. The sum was announced by Founder and CEO Adriana Gascoigne at PegaWorld 2019, a conference for the software company Pegasystems, reports PR Newswire. Pega (as the cool kids call it) donated $500 for every conference registration. The Trefler Foundation, which focuses on a variety on initiatives for the next generation, also donated a large portion based on conference ticket purchases. Girls in Tech announced that the money raised will be used for "global initiatives aimed at educating and empowering women who are passionate about technology." (See WiCipedia: Stargazing, Subsidized Childcare & Bulgarian Equality and WiCipedia: Podcasts, Charity Tech & Micro-Aggressions .)

  • The Google-James Damore anti-diversity case is alive and well, says Gizmodo. Damore was fired by Google nearly two years ago because he published a sexist "manifesto" stating that women aren't equipped to work in technical fields. Damore has since filed a lawsuit suing his ex-employer for discrimination against "conservative politics" with another ex-Googler. Despite Google's efforts to have it dismissed, the suit has now entered the discovery phase in a California court. Yet "Legal experts have (for the most part) largely been dismissive of the lawsuit's chances," the article states, explaining that the plaintiff's chances of winning are slim to none. (See 'Ladysplaining' Ex-Googler's Anti-Women Memo.)

  • Microsoft has a new passion project. The company announced that its Women in Cloud Accelerator Program, which provides mentorship and resources to women-founded cloud companies, is set to expand to nine countries around the world. The program will make its debut in Seattle, and from there will make its way to Chicago and New York City before testing international waters in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, India, Kenya, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Gretchen O'Hara, vice president for go-to-market strategy of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft and a co-founder of Women in Cloud, explained the strategy: "At the end of the day, if we're not getting [women in cloud] set up to succeed from a technology perspective, if we're not allowing women access to cloud and AI technology of the future and we're not giving them access to capital and they're not able to get the corporate contracts, those businesses go under." (See IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire.)

  • While in most developed countries tech is a tool that helps women thrive, Spectator reports that the same is sadly not true in less developed countries around the world. In fact, the article states that "Across the globe, tools that empower American women are being reconfigured to cage and degrade women." For example, while Western women may use apps to track their movements and notify others to keep them safe when walking alone at night, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, such apps are used in order for men to track women and control their privileges, such as driving. In China, a user on the social media website Weibo claims to have used facial recognition technology to identify 100,000 women who have been in adult videos. The user claimed he was doing so in order to notify men who might be about unwittingly to marry a woman who has appeared on porn sites.

    While usages such as these are not ones Westerners might think of often, Libby Emmons, the author of the article, aptly put it this way: "Technology isn't liberation in itself, but only a means to an end. The potential benefits of each piece of technology are moderated by the culture that applies it. In societies where women are already under the thumb of men, or where individual rights are already weak, women will be the ones who take the digital hit in the real world." (See WiCipedia: Int'l Telecom, Emerging Industries & Back to School.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

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