Empowerment alone will not move the dial for women

The collective actions of thousands across movements like #metoo and #TimesUp has shown the world that being rich, powerful, and male does not give you a free pass. We believe that Dr. Ford felt more able to act on her civic duty because of and through the support of these movements. Similarly, we believe that the 20,000 Google employees that participated in the recent Google Walkout for Real Change were fueled by the power of these movements. We’ve made progress. But clearly not enough. 

A recent  YouGov poll revealed that President Donald Trump’s supporters believe that menare discriminated against more than the LGBTQ+ community, women, and most  ethnic minorities. You would be tempted to laugh had the results of this pollnot come out following the Senate confirming Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment tothe Supreme Court, despite the allegations against him. Not to mention, Trump  having directly mocked Dr. Ford’s testimony against Kavanaugh.

Would a   nominee for Supreme Court Justice, whether liberal or conservative, have been confirmed  following Dr. Ford’s brave testimony if Hillary Clinton was President? Would  she have instructed the FBI differently? Would Google have handled Andy Rubin’s  sexual assault allegations with a $90M payout, if the senior leadership teamand board were comprised of more women at the time? We are pretty sure therewould have been different outcomes in both cases. We can already see thedangerous implications of not having enough women in leadership roles in  politics and government, and we all know this lack of representation of women,ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community spans many sectors,including in the tech sector. Which is the new economy. We believe that everypart of our future will rely on technology in some form or another.  Andyet it is a sector that maintains a jarring gender gap.

Overall  women hold about the same amount of undergraduate degrees as men, but onlyabout 30% of them are graduating from STEM courses. In the US, just 18% ofComputer Science degrees go to women. For women who’ve already made it throughthe door, almost a third plan to leave their STEM jobs within a year. Womenaccounted for less than a fifth of newly-appointed CEOs at US companies lastyear. And the numbers are even worse in the tech industry alone. We believethat this problem perpetuates itself. You can only be what you can see. Andthere simply have not been enough tech leader role models that are women. Whenwe picture iconic female tech leaders, along the lines of people like SherylSandberg, there are not many examples.

We  need  more women at the top. Including at the design, leadership and board tables oftech companies. And this is an urgent problem. If our tech design andleadership tables don’t reflect the populations they serve (including women,and particularly women of colour) — which they currently don’t — ourtechnology solutions will be biased. And as AI becomes increasingly morecommon, we fear we won’t be able to untrain the bias we ingrain into ourtechnology solutions. Earlier this month, it was uncovered that Amazon scrappedits secret AI recruiting tool because it showed bias against women. The reasonfor the bias? Amazon’s computer models were trained to examine applicants byobserving patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a period of 10years when most applicants were men, reflecting the male dominance across thetech industry.

To ensure  that women are at the forefront of our new economy, which is vital, we need togo further than empowerment. While empowerment is critical, alone, it will notlead to advancement without individual and shared action.

What if wecould collectively direct all of the energy we each put into monitoring oursocial feeds about the current state of the nation in the US towards  proactively helping at least one woman advance through one small act? The  simple gesture of bringing a junior woman colleague into an executive meetingso she can see how to run it, or bring her along to attend an event, or createa new network connection, or give her a stretch assignment –  can change  her career (and life). And what about providing coaching around achievingspecific goals, what I call career “championing”, to enable andsupport her to actually advance, take the next step?

Right  at  this moment, you can actively make a decision to go out of your way for onewoman, and you will play a huge part in moving the dial. These small acts canmake big change towards  advancing the participation and leadership of women.Because we need more women at the top. To design solutions for all of us, tobring diversity of thought to making decisions like how to handle sexual  harassment allegations, and because it is almost 2019. Equality should be tablestakes by now. Shouldn’t it? 

Michele Romanow, Jodi Kovitz, Toronto Mayor John Tory, & Jay Rosenzweig at inaugural #movethedial Global Summit to elevate women in tech

 

42 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Yes that’s true

    1. Hmm quite interesting. That’s women for us.

  2. Wjayt you mean is that women to be given powers

  3. Yeah you are right simply the truth

  4. Yeah,lets go there

  5. You are absolutely right, I concur with this

  6. women should be giving this opportunity.

  7. I agreed on this

  8. That just the truth

  9. I concur on this.

  10. i think their is truth in this

  11. That’s just the truth

  12. It’s just the fact and I totally agree.

  13. The word is real

  14. Yes, we need more women at the top and to achieve this, we need to go beyond empowerment. Nice one

  15. I agree with you on this

  16. Totally in support

  17. Gone are those days when people feel women should not go to school, empowerment is truly not enough, we need more intelligent and educated women at the hem of affairs in this country

  18. Empowerment is like giving handouts. We can go beyond that to entrust greater responsibility to the women we have trusted to manage our homes. They can do more.

  19. Serious mater

  20. I Totally Agree That Really True

  21. If empowerment doesn’t move the dial for women what will make the dial then ? Empowerment is giving women power

  22. I am sure for this

  23. Women empowerment is the best

  24. Wjayt you mean is that women to be given powers

  25. mean is that women to be given powers

  26. Yeah that’s true

  27. It is high time that women are to be treated with respect like men

  28. Nice one….But there is nwed for more hands

  29. Very well said

  30. I concur with this also

  31. Yes.. I agree.. Thanks for sharing

  32. Nice one noted

  33. I totally agree with you. Thank you for sharing

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