The tech industry must act now to prevent another #metoo saga

Lily Covington
Source: Getty

The tech industry has not yet been included in the voices shouting #metoo, but it’s imminent.

A few months ago, Tesla was denounced as a “predator zone” and was sued by AJ Vandermeyden for sexual harassment, while Susan Fowler was one of the first women to sound the alarm about Uber by writing about her experience of malicious management at the firm.

Sexual harassment is not a problem the tech industry can ignore.

The reluctance to change is often more astonishing than the inequality itself, but it comes from an epistemically impoverished position.

Men in tech have never had to fight to be included, and they have never been accused of being “biologically less capable of engineering” by people like Google’s James Danmore.

Lack of awareness stagnates change for the entire industry. Only five per cent of all venture capital deals went to women-led companies last year, and there was a $56.7bn gap in investment received by men and women with businesses. This is absurd, considering female-led tech firms bring in 12 per cent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies, and their return on investment is 35 per cent higher.

Without a shift, women will be confined to achieving less than men.

We need more women at the top of investment firms, and more funding into female-led startups.

Despite the fact that 74 per cent of young girls express interest in STEM fields and computer science, only 28 per cent of computer science degrees are earned by women. Tech needs to cease alienating young girls.

Ben Brabyn, head of tech business Level 39, says: “we’re acutely conscious about the gender imbalance in technology.” He points to initiatives – like Cruxy&Co, I Can Be, and Code First – which look to inspire the next generation of women in tech.

The enthusiasm for tech is there, but must be nurtured. Devika Darbari, chief operations officer at fintech startup Cobalt, says: “young women need role models to inspire them. On my career journey, there were not many public leading women role models in finance. My father was my inspiration that led to my business drive.”

Pinky Lilani, leader of the Women of the Future programme, says the industry must neutralise the gender stereotypes, and broaden the aspirations of the next generation of female leaders.

By doing this we can usurp the expectations of girls, families and society as a whole and begin to shape a tech industry where women are equal.

Only when this happens will young women not be at risk of saying #metoo.

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