There’s a Gender Gap in Internet Usage. Closing It Would Open Up Opportunities for Everyone

We have all heard about a gap when it comes to participation of women in the tech industry. Facebook, Google, and Apple have 17%, 19% and 23% women in their technology staffs, respectively. Multiple surveys, such as the “The Elephant in the Valley,” have documented systematic discrimination against women. And there’s a continuous barrage of news stories regarding the challenges that women face across a raft of iconic Silicon Valley firms. No more than a quarter of U.S. computing and mathematical jobs are held by women, consistent with the data that around 26% of the STEM workforce in developed countries is female. In developing countries, those differences are even greater.

But the gender gap problem doesn’t stop there. There’s also a shortage of women using some of the industry’s products. The International Telecommunications Union reports that the proportion of women using the internet is 12% lower than the proportion of men; this gender gap widens to 32.9% in the least developed countries. And even when a woman gets on a phone or is online, she might face additional hostility. A World Wide Web Foundation report says “women around the world report being bombarded by a culture of misogyny online, including aggressive, often sexualized hate speech, direct threats of violence, harassment, and revenge porn involving use of personal/private information for defamation.”

What this speaks to is an opportunity for the tech industry — both to address internal diversity issues and to address how companies think about the products they create around the world.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review