International Women’s Day: Can Tech Drive Equality For Women Of Color?
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” But can technology and digital education really champion the change women and girls need?
In today’s digital age, technology is a powerful tool in empowering women, especially women of color, to access resources and create their own platforms to share their stories and experiences, as well as educate others.
We have seen a rise in Black women tech influencers such as Maya Bello, the software engineer who uses TikTok to teach coding, and Hosanna Hali, the “Fairy Tech Mother” who helps demystify the tech industry and assists others in pursuing a career in tech.
Although technology has been a great asset in connecting women with each other and amplifying their collective voice, there is still a massive gender equity gap in tech education and employment.
As we live through the fourth industrial revolution, where technological and artificial intelligence advancements change rapidly, digital literacy is just as important as traditional literacy in the everyday world. However, women and girls in many parts of the world are often left behind in comparison to their male counterparts.
Women’s exclusion from the digital world in developing countries cost the world $1 trillion in the last decade
The UN reported that women’s exclusion from the digital world in developing countries cost the world $1 trillion in the last decade. For example, in Bangladesh, women are 29% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, and 52% less likely to use the internet.
In the US, Black women make up 3% of the tech workforce, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. This figure drops to less than 0.6% in the UK. Similarly, Latinas find themselves underrepresented and underpromoted in the tech workforce, while Asian women seem stuck.
Things aren’t much better in the startup ecosystem, where in 2021, less than 0.004% of venture capital investment went to startups with Black female founders, according to the MIT Technological Review.
Defying the odds
Despite these challenges, Black women continue starting their own businesses at a higher rate than white men, with 61% self-funding their total startup capital. Black women are innovating across the industry, using tech to address everything from the menopause to gun safety, and they’re investing millions to spark change.
Similarly, despite the cards being stacked against them, Latinas are raising funds and spearheading tech giants, while Indigenous women are breaking new ground and empowering the next generation of tech innovators.
The tech world is a direct reflection of society as a whole. The gender inequalities that exist mirror the wide gap in society. Technology and innovation alone cannot bring about gender equity, but women are using tech to meet their own needs and empower their communities.
And women of color, are leading the way.