What are the implications of a world designed and built by men and for men?
From seatbelts to the social media platform Facebook, the technologies around us that overlook the needs of women could end up threatening the comfort, and even safety of half of the world’s population.
Although women have long been recognised as a customer segment, they have only been thought about at the last stage of product development—marketing, said Ananya Chandra, founder and chief executive of Women Prosperity Lab.
When women are thought about so late in the process, products tend to have a superficial understanding of women’s needs, such as Dell’s smaller and pink laptops that are “catered for women”.
“When we talk about womentech, the key distinction is that we’re looking at the design of the product,” Chandra says.
Social structures across the world have disempowered women to make their demands known and don’t include women in the decision-making process of how products are designed, she adds.
The root of the problem is that there aren’t enough women tech engineers and businesswomen, and even though more women are venturing into these spaces, funding is not flowing to female founders and designers.
While venture capital boomed in 2020, the share of the pie for women founders shrank to 2.2 per cent. In Southeast Asia, the figures are even more dismal. Startups founded solely by women garnered only 0.9 per cent of the capital raised in 2020.
This conversation is particularly important given the context of Covid-19 as the pandemic has pushed gender parity back by a generation, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest 2021 Global Gender Gap Report. Based on current trends, it will take the world 135.6 years to close the gap, an increase from last year’s forecast of 99.5 years.
With gender equality taking a giant step back, supporting female founders and technologies that focus on women’s needs should be high on the agenda as the tech industry continues to boom beyond the pandemic.
Tune in as we talk about:
- Why ‘womentech’ has become the latest buzz word
- How pervasive gender bias is in the design of technologies
- How big is the market opportunity for womentech?
- Sheroes, the Facebook for women with over 22 million users
- The most important question that womentech investors ask startups