Why Jennifer Lawrence naked shots tell us we need more women in tech

Women codersUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be hard pressed to not know that pictures of dozens of female celebrities have been leaked in the last week by a hacker accessing personal photographs stored on Apple’s iCloud. This has given rise to well-covered questions about the security of cloud technology. For us, this debacle also illustrates the sexist and threatening nature of these hacks and even the dearth of women coders.

As Hadley Freeman points out in The Guardian in her article: ‘The Naked Celebrity Hack: An Outstanding Example of Sexism’: ‘Anyway, the point of these pictures isn’t to give anyone sexual pleasure. Many of these actresses in the latest leak have posed next-to-naked in their various films and magazine shoots already so it’s not exactly like the hackers are revealing much more than is already known. It’s purely a power thing, like when tabloids publish pap photos of celebrities unawares….The only time naked photos of men get leaked onto the internet is when they ham-fistedly leak them themselves….,and the general response is laughter and mockery. With women, that leaking happens when others steal the images from their phones, and the response here is darker, sexual, triumphal. Neither response is good, but the one in regards to women is definitely more threatening. There is no difference between the leaking of stolen naked photos from a female celebrity’s phone and so-called “revenge porn”, when a man leaks photos of an ex-partner. It’s a means of exuding power over someone who thought they were, if not powerful, at least independent’.

Furthermore, the fact that the shots are all of female celebrities suggest the audience, and the perpetrators, are male. As long as heterosexual men are the predominate force in technology, IT products, services, and even security leaks will be focused on what men want to see – in this case, naked photos of female celebrities.

While we do not believe that equality will be gained when we have equal numbers of stolen shots of Ryan Gosling to Jennifer Lawrence, a point raised humorously, but rather coarsely by two female coders in this video (probably not safe for viewing at work), it does make you wonder what ingenuity we are missing if we continue to have our products … and even the destruction of those products, led by men.

Why ‘Silicon Valley’ is Business as Usual for a ‘Brogrammer’ culture

Silicon ValleyNew TV satire, Silicon Valley is centered around six ‘geek’ stereotypes who found a startup tech company. The sitcom’s sadly devoid of strong female characters. Instead it portrays a tech start-up world dominated by white men and the ubiquitous “brogrammer” culture. Some argue that the show’s mirroring the tech industry but with big tech companies, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook revealing disappointing gender balanced workforces, we at Female breadwinners hoped “Silicon Valley” would’ve presented a more positive and enlightening vision of the tech industry.

There’s only one female returning cast member, Monica. She’s an uber-competent assistant who’s proficient at making hotel reservations, maintaining schedules and offering support to the start up guys. Any other women, like ‘Mochachino’; a black stripper are either an object of sexual speculation or a disposable prop.

When the producers took to Twitter with a campaign #AskSiliconValley seeking feedback, the lack of women in the show, specifically in technical roles, was high on the agenda. When asked if there would be female coders, the creator,  Mike Judge replied, ‘Yes. We’re writing now and 2 new main female characters so far’. Judge wasn’t specific in his response as to whether their roles will be technical…we’ll be watching.

With the international prominence of strong female techies such as Sheryl Sandberg, Nicola Mendelsohn and Marissa Meyer, the lack of female representation on media vision of Silicon Valley must change. Nadja von Massow, Head of creative at The GIG at DST agrees and wrote in The Guardian: ’You only have to attend networking groups such as DLD (Digital Life Design) Woman to notice the high velocity of women now working in tech roles’. If the show takes heed of it’s viewers and wants to truly reflect the future tech culture, the cast will have to change.

 

Women drive social media growth

Women and social mediaIt’s now widely known that women are responsible for purchasing 80% of household goods according to The Wall Street Journal. Their combined purchasing power makes companies sit up and take notice. Plus, according to ‘Women Want More’ by Michael Silverstein women are more likely to take recommendations from friends when trying new products, so it’s even more important for brands to relate to their female audience – and through the mediums they favour. On financeonline.com: ‘Why women are the real power behind social media’, found of the 1,801 adults surveyed, women use social media more often and in different ways than men. Here are some facts:

  • Women were more common users of Facebook (76% vs 66%), tumblr (54% vs 46%) and Pinterest (33% vs 8%).
  • 30% of women used social media several times a day.
  • 58% of women used social media for news.
  • Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr gained 10 million new users in 2013, the majority being women.
  • 53% of women found special offers through their social media interaction with brands.

When looked at this way, women dominate social media – and why shouldn’t they – it’s ultimate utility is in making and maintaining relationships; a human urge, but one to which women are particularly well-attuned. So how much sense does it make for the main creators of social media to be men? ‘When we need people who understand both tech and the person buying it, women who have combined the technical expertise and softer skills such as empathy, will thrive’. Nadja von Massow, head of creative at The GIG at DST believes women are better communicators than men. They tend to choose roles which combine their tech skills with communication, such as, social media marketing, PR and client services. Social media marketing’s advancing and it’s creating an even greater wealth of opportunities for women in tech, both as users and servers.

Is her time Online any different to His?

differences between men and women onlineMen and women differ in many ways, including the way we use the Internet. While women tend to use the Internet on a frequent basis, men tend to test out more new technologies sooner. Let’s take a closer look at how women and men vary when it comes to shopping online.

Difference #1: Time Spent Online
A recent poll by PCMag showed that men spend more than 19 hours online each week, while women tend to spend around 14 hours online each week. Men tend to get online more frequently and stay online for longer periods of time.

Age does matter when it comes to Internet use. A report by Pew Internet stated that women under 30 use the Internet more than men in their age groups, but older men are use the internet more frequently than women their age.

Difference #2: Online Communication
In a 2010 report by comScore, women are more interested in online communication than men, be it social networking, instant messaging or email. In 2012, more than 67% of adults used the Internet for social networking, with women (71%) being more involved on social networking sites than men (62%). While men may log on more frequently, according to a BizReport article, 83% of women check their email daily compared to 75% of men.

Difference #3: What Do We Use The Internet For?
Men most often use the Internet to read news, check sports scores, buy and sell stocks and get sports news, shop via online auctions, download music and watch shows and movies. Women, on the other hand, more often use the Internet to seek out information, shop or look for deals on shopping sites like LivingSocial or Groupon.

According to the comScore report, Men and women use the Internet at the same rate to watch videos via high-speed Internet – but the big difference here is where they’re watching videos. Men spend exponentially more time watching full videos online in general, but women (36%) are more likely than men (22%) to watch YouTube.

Do you notice a difference in the way you and the men in your life use online time?

Contributed by: Skylar Michelle James is a graduate student in the Boston area. When she’s not studying or working on her thesis about the Internet Philosophy, she likes to write freelance articles about the future of the Internet and what’s next in technology. Follow her on Twitter @SkyJamesWriter.

The Diminishing Relevance of Booth Babes in 2013 – Aren’t the Products Sexy Enough?

With well over half of consumer technology sales now being made to women, one wonders how long it be until IT companies realise that pandering to gender stereotypes, offers diminishing returns in the long-run. It’s insulting to the men attending, makes the industry look archaic in it’s PR efforts and doesn’t show much confidence in their wares if they think semi-naked women will be the primary draw to their products.

Plus, as displayed in this short video, it makes the growing number of women in technology who attend bemused at best and degraded at worst. Not a great marketing strategy for most technology firm’s fastest growing target market – women. As mentioned in the video, it shows a real lack of ‘forward thinking leadership’ on the part of the Consumer Electronics Show’s organisers.

Even China, the hottest market for consumer technology, is showing much more proactivity, banning the use of such models at their industry shows. The answer is in expecting punters to focus on the technology, and not adding topless men as suggested. Objectifying women is not remedied by equally objectifying men.

So How’s the IT Industry for Women in 2011? Lacklustre it Seems

My favourite network for women working in IT womenintechnology.co.uk teamed up with Intellect’s Women in IT Forum to survey women in the industry on how they felt about women’s progress  in the technology profession. This was a follow up from an initial survey in 2007, and unfortunately, there wasn’t a good deal of change to brag about.

The full report which can be downloaded here reported “ The tech industry has failed to remove the glass ceiling. A long hours and macho culture still exists. Whilst the technology sector rated highly in the provision of progressive employment policies and facilities, the survey revealed a fear amongst women that taking up the options of part time or flexible working would be detrimental to their careers as highlighted by one respondent who said: “The company offers some flexibility but women taking up options of part time and flex type working undoubtedly suffer in the promotion stakes. They simply don’t get recognition.”

Worryingly, over 60% of respondents have over a decade of experience and yet only just over a quarter ( 26%) have reached senior management level with many feeling that they are being passed over for promotion in favour of male colleagues. In fact over a third of respondents said they had left their last position due to a lack of internal promotion.

Is HR helping or hindering these women who want to progress?

Findings from the new survey also concluded that HR rates poorly in supporting women in the IT sector. Only 36% rated HR departments as good or excellent – 3% down from the 2007 figure. This compares poorly with other groups such as line management (47%); direct boss (55%); colleagues (60%) and juniors (47%). Worryingly, over a quarter of respondents (27%) rated HR departments’ support as ‘poor’ or non-existent.

Commenting on the results, Maggie Berry, Managing Director of Women in Technology said: “Breaking the glass ceiling is not about promoting gender equality for its own sake. There is an absolute business case – women are not a minority in a highly qualified tech talent pool and research from McKinsey & Co in 2007 clearly showed that organisations with strong female representation at top management and board level perform better than those without. It’s disappointing to still be having to have this debate in 2011!”

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