WiCipedia: Gender equality is imperative in city planning

This week in our WiC roundup: Geochicas take to the streets; high schoolers as role models; how pandemics affect feminism; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

April 3, 2020

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Gender equality is imperative in city planning

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Geochicas take to the streets; high schoolers as role models; how pandemics affect feminism; and more.

  • We sometimes talk about the repercussions of men making up the majority of new tech designers, but what would happen if men were the only ones to design cities? While women comprise nearly 40% of cartography jobs, it's not enough, which is why a group of 230 female volunteers ("Geochicas") in 22 countries, primarily in Latin America, came together to work on a crowdsourced map of Mexico. Using the OpenStreetMap platform, which was previously mostly made up of men, the group works to ensure that women are represented in the open source maps. "When you are looking at OpenStreetMap participation and you see very low numbers [of women], a lot of that is reflecting the larger issue of women in tech and in computer science," said Patricia Solis of Arizona State University's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. This is crucial work, especially because OpenStreetMap "found that women mappers tend to add services often overlooked by men, such as hospitals, childcare services, toilets, domestic violence shelters and women's health clinics." (See WiCipedia: The AI Diversity Struggle, Companies Aren't Prioritizing Equality & New-Mom Decisions.) Figure 1: Can you imagine if cities didn't have hospitals? (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • Think you have to have reached a certain age or level of success to inspire future generations of women in tech? Think again. Rappler interviewed 18-year-old Audrey Pe, a STEM activist who's on a mission to show girls that there's a place for them in tech and that gender equality in STEM can be a reality. Pe is the founder of WiTech, a non-profit org with the mission "to educate, inspire and empower the youth to break gender stereotypes and make a difference using technology." The team is mostly made up of young women in the Philippines, many still in high school. Needless to say they've had their share of not being taken seriously – especially when looking for funding – though that hasn't slowed them down. "In Witech, we often get asked, when does the work stop? Is it when we get 50-50? And we say like yes and no, because yes, we want it to be 50-50 but we don't want it just to be like the middle to upper class 50%. We need it to be a diverse 50%, and we'll only get that with the right infrastructure, the right curriculum, the right resources, the right teacher training to get the curriculum taught. It's like a lot of different puzzle pieces that need to come together," Pe said. (See Think Tank & Telecom Non-Profit Partner Together to Sponsor Grants for Tech Education for Students in Underserved Communities.)

    • While pandemics affect everyone, according to The Atlantic they affect women much more than men, and are an obstacle to feminism. Currently, the tasks of childcare, working from home and taking care of sick relatives are often needing to be done in the same place by the same person – and those duties often fall on women. In previous pandemics, men's incomes have bounced back faster than women's and women have had to take more time off work to care for children. Domestic abuse rates have already risen with so many people stuck at home, and while lost paid work is being compensated by the government, unpaid labor such as caretaking for family members is not. Women may have a better chance of surviving the virus, but the cost of getting there is certainly higher. (See WiCipedia: Mansplaining makes for a sticky situation.)

    • A forthcoming book, titled Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators, addresses how women of color can build fruitful careers in an industry that hasn't historically been welcoming to them. Author Susanne Tedrick, a tech worker herself, explains that her motivation for writing the book was to encourage women to pursue their dream careers while also having the space to openly discuss the bias they may experience, Black News explains. A virtual panel discussion will be held on April 14, which also happens to be the book launch date, with women in tech talking about the hurdles that women face when entering the industry and ways to leap over them with grace. Young women who are interested in working in tech in the future are particularly encouraged to join the conversation. (See WiCipedia: Fake it till you make it – the confidence edition.)

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

About the Author(s)

Eryn Leavens

Special Features & Copy Editor

Eryn Leavens, who joined Light Reading in January 2015, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before earning her BA in creative writing and studio arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. She also completed UC Berkeley Extension's Professional Sequence in Editing.

She stumbled into tech copy editing after red-penning her way through several Bay Area book publishers, including Chronicle Books, Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull Press and Seal Press. She spends her free time lifting heavy things, growing her own food, animal wrangling and throwing bowls on the pottery wheel. She lives in Alameda, Calif., with two cats and two greyhounds.

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