I sent the following email to a couple of respected male advisors this past week. I asked these gentlemen, leaders in our industry, specifically as I was curious as to their response.
“So of course I’m up to shenanigans as always and would love your feedback/thoughts on the below. As always it’s surrounding my desire to help elevate women. I’m trying to figure out if I’m not seeing reality because I’m in a bit of a bubble, or if others are seeing the same thing I’m seeing.
So what am I seeing?
There’s a whole new set of technology exploding: Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Machine Learning, AI, VR, 3D printing, and the list goes on. These innovations are creating the same wild and out-there conversations I heard back in the mid-90’s when the internet was first being used in the mainstream marketplaces.
What I experienced in the 90’s, when it came to women and their opportunity to be part of the “building” discussion, is happening again today. There aren’t many women in the room. And because (most) women are not learning about, and discussing, and playing with, these new technologies they’re not part of the conversation.
As they’re not part of the conversation, they’re not part of the initial building phases. I’m worried that this will mean another round of technologies built without the diverse perspective of women. And from this, industry’s goal to have more women be part of the leadership team will be kneecapped again. There’s a new gap.
Is it me? Or are you seeing this too?
Curious as always, Jo.”
There is good news and bad news about the responses I got to my question. The good news is both of them told me I was sort of right. You’ve got to love that, right? The bad news is they think I might be right. Oh dear.
I asked a follow-up question to one who is a regular participant at new technology conferences and events. I asked him if he’d give me a breakdown of people he was meeting there, the number of men vs. women. He told me that on average about 15% of conversations were with women. He said, however, this was an improvement over previous technologies. Historically, he explained, it wasn’t until the technology was more mainstream that he’d start to see more women in the room.
This is worrying ladies.
The line between technology and humanity continues to blur your voice, your experiences, your thoughts about how, what, and why a technology can be used. The inclusion of a clear and leading feminine perspective is more critical than ever.
And if that isn’t enough, do we want the diversity gap - even if we just think of gender - to widen even further?
Yeah. I don’t either.
So I’ve started educating myself about as much of this technology as possible. There are a couple of links below to some of the resources I use to help me with this. But I challenge you all to get out there and make sure you understand the how, what, and why of things like blockchain or machine learning. Or if you’re one of the Ladybadass 15% then help a Ladybadass out and explain it to everyone else. It helps us all.
Does this worry you too? Or do you think I’m wrong? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Links that help explain new tech:
Andreessen Horowitz Podcast - One of the better resources I use to understand the emerging technology. It’s a little like getting to sit in a room with a bunch of tech nerds and listening in.
Blockchain - What You Need to Know - Karim Lakhani, Harvard Business School professor and co-founder of the HBS Digital Initiative, discusses blockchain, an online record-keeping technology that many believe will revolutionize commerce. Lakhani breaks down how the technology behind bitcoin works and talks about the industries and companies that could see new growth opportunities or lose business.
12 Things to Know About Bitcoin - Entrepreneur Magazine article on cryptocurrencies