Geek Girls and the Greater Good
How tech makes the world a better place to be female. The upsurgence of women in STEM jobs is making waves around the world. The Femme-fluence is wider than you think.
Growing up, our knowledge of the world beyond our immediate environment was limited. There were no social networks; no twitter, no #hashtags, no members of the public spouting ideas and opinions into cyberspace. It’s easy to look back and reminisce, thinking that life was so much better back then before the tech revolution – but the truth is, we are far better off now. I’m not talking about how we can order online in 30 seconds, or that we can literally see our hangover McNuggets making their way across the city, or even that now our soulmates (LOL who are we kidding!?) are sitting in our phones waiting for us to swipe the right way. But rather, as a society and a community – especially as women – we’ve grown so much for the better, and the world is slowly becoming a kinder place to live.
I remember being told never to walk home alone, to carry my car keys between my fingers, and to stick to busy, well-lit routes. Whilst all this remains sound advice, nowadays we can actually follow our loved ones home – through cyber space. Technology and geotracking have evolved so much that they are now helping to keep us safer. The app Watch Over Me, allows us to select people to share our journey home. If we don’t reach our destination within a reasonable amount of time, our chosen contacts are alerted. Taking it even further, in the event of an emergency, Noonlight will alert the police and an officer will be rushed to your location. All of a sudden, your phone ‘watching’ you all the time might not be the worst idea after all.
Even in a less tech savvy way, social media is making the world a safer place. Female expats in South Korea – a place known for its very Confucian, male-favouring social rules (and Korean-favouring legal ones) – have created a Facebook group where members tell of less than favourable romantic encounters and caution each other about potentially dangerous Tinder users. Wish-we-didn’t-need-it thoughts aside, without the technological advancements of our current age, we could potentially have much more blood on our hands.
Take #MeToo for example. The spread of this unfortunately giant movement was possible only because of social media, with hashtags allowing us to see the plight of others – as public or as private as they decided to make it. Me Too even made waves on the other side of the world – albeit in a slightly different way. Under China’s crushing censorship policies, any mentions of #MeToo were expressly forbidden and posts were removed as soon as the names of important or powerful men started to pop up. Coincidentally, the English words ‘me’ and ‘too’ sound very similar to the Chinese words for ‘rice’ and ‘bunny’. Thus, the RiceBunny movement was born. An Asian country censoring all posts mentioning rice was deemed a step too far – even for China.
On a brighter note, remember those videos in middle school which told you to mark in your diary when your next period was due? Now, Apps like Flo, Clue, and Eve do it for us. They’re way better at it than we are, and on top of that, they also tell us exactly what’s going on in our bodies, how to improve our cycles through nutrition, and why we might have eaten an entire pack of Chips Ahoy whilst crying at a documentary about a giant squid.
Health and safety aside, our social lives are another area in which tech is making life easier. Have you ever tried to make friends as an adult? How do you go from chatting after pilates to going out to happy hour wingmanning your new pal, and debriefing over a bottomless mimosa brunch the next day? When we first branch out from our childhood friends, we’re at university – everyone is in the same boat and everyone is equally as desperate to buddy up. If you move to a new city/country/continent as a young professional, it can be daunting, and lonely. This is such a new age problem – 50 years ago we wouldn’t have moved out of our hometown – and whilst not specific to women, it’s generally well known that female friendships are far more complex than male ones. Women need girl time more than our male counterparts need guy time. Through the power of social media, there are hundreds, even thousands of Meet Up groups, specifically for those who identify as female. Book clubs, sports teams, mother’s groups, wine appreciation networks, women in tech – the list is endless.
Even though most of what I’ve mentioned above isn’t a direct result of women working in tech, the correlation between STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) jobs being more accessible to everyone and the rise of casual feminism is obvious – imagine if we left the period tracker apps to the men?! (I imagine it would be similar to asking your boyfriend to do your makeup – a strong effort but ultimately not fit for purpose.) The platforms created by tech gives women all over the world a voice. Whether we use that voice to make new friends, fight the patriarchy, or stream Real Housewives – it doesn’t matter. The fact that we are able, empowered, and encouraged to use the tools at our disposal however we damn well please, is something to be celebrated.
- Alex Hanna: Diversity, The Key Towards Ethical Design? - 12 November 2020
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- Fereshteh Forough, A Real Superhero for Real People - 24 May 2020