International Women’s Day: Breaking the barriers of STEM
Despite another year having passed since International Women’s Day 2017, the issues surrounding a lack of female employment within the global technology sector still remains a fundamental problem to the industry.
According to research from non-profit organization Girls Who Code, despite 74% of girls showing an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in US middle school, only 0.4% select degrees in this subject area.
As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of STEM talent, restricting a huge amount of potential within the technology sector.
“The tech sector is very competitive and every company wants to bring in the best talent,” said Marianne Calder, VP of EMEA at automated software firm, Puppet. “To do this most effectively you have to assess 100% of talent out there, not just 50% of it.”
“The technology sector is an exciting, fast-paced sector, but is sadly still very male dominated, partly due to the alarmingly low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at college,” said Shantayne Augustine, Marketing Director, Fuzzy Logix.
One such example is in Canada, where a report from MoveTheDial revealed that only 5% of Canadian technology firms have a female founder or CEO.
Changing this culture is no easy matter, but in order to do so, the role of women in technology must be promoted, both at a young age in education and in the workplace with greater career opportunities.
“As it stands today everyone can promote women in STEM to create a large female workforce in technology and science,” said Swati Chopra, Director of Global Support Services and Customer Success, Bitglass. "Salary and promotion criteria should be the same for men and women, and equal opportunity promotions should exist to promote from within a diverse pool of prospective candidates.”
Some such initiatives already exist, with PwC having joined forces with 18 major organizations last month to launch the Tech She Can Charter in a pledge to help boost the number of females pursuing technology careers.
PwC’s own study, Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap, revealed that only 3% of women cite a technology-based career as their first choice, due to both a lack of resources and information from a young age and role models within the industry.
“Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late - to boost the number of females in technology we need to take coordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school,” said Sheridan Ash, Women in Tech leader at PwC and The Tech She Can Charter Founder.
“By working together, we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives. We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world.”
Discord buys Sentropy to fight against hate and abuse online
Discord, a popular chat app, has acquired the software company Sentropy to bolster its efforts to combat online abuse and harassment. Sentropy, monitors online networks for abuse and harassment, then offers users a way to block problematic people and filter out messages they don’t want to see.
First launched in 2015 and currently boasting 150 million monthly active users, Discord plans to integrate Sentropy’s own products into its existing toolkit and the company will also bring the smaller company’s leadership group aboard. Discord currently uses a “multilevel” approach to moderation, and a Trust and Safety (T&S) team dedicated to protecting users and shaping content moderation policies comprised 15% of Discord’s workforce as of May 2020.
“T&S tech and processes should not be used as a competitive advantage,” Sentropy CEO John Redgrave said in a blog post on the announcement. “We all deserve digital and physical safety, and moderators deserve better tooling to help them do one of the hardest jobs online more effectively and with fewer harmful impacts.”
Cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse
Redgrave elaborated on the company’s natural connection with Discord: “Discord represents the next generation of social companies — a generation where users are not the product to be sold, but the engine of connectivity, creativity, and growth. In this model, user privacy and user safety are essential product features, not an afterthought. The success of this model depends upon building next-generation Trust and Safety into every product. We don’t take this responsibility lightly and are humbled to work at the scale of Discord and with Discord’s resources to increase the depth of our impact.”
Sentropy launched out of stealth last summer with an AI system designed to detect, track and cleanse platforms of online harassment and abuse. The company emerged then with $13 million in funding from notable backers including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and his VC firm Initialized Capital, King River Capital, Horizons Ventures and Playground Global.
“We are excited to help Discord decide how we can most effectively share with the rest of the Internet the best practices, technology, and tools that we’ve developed to protect our own communities,” Redgrave said.