For over a century International Women's Day, held on March the 8th, has commemorated the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and girls championing gender equality. This year's theme is #BreakTheBias. Compelling pleas for impartiality, most notably in the employment sector, are stuck on repeat. Currently, women account for under half of the overall global workforce. With fewer girls studying computer science, and ageism in most sectors, the ratio of 20% women to 80% men working in technology will steadily decline. Albeit statistically low in numbers, women in tech are challenging gender inequality with unprecedented results. Valuing inclusion, diversity, proficiency, inspiration, and empowerment, the five women featured will help #BreakTheBias.
Angelica Ross, an American actress, businesswoman, and activist, was the first openly transgender person to host the 2020 Presidential Candidate Forum on LGBTQ issues. A self-taught computer programmer, Angelica believes it is vital that transgender people have equal opportunities to work in one of the fastest-growing industries. 'As a black trans woman, technology was the catalyst to my development'. In 2014 she founded TransTech Social Enterprises, where members work together to develop skills and own their power in marginalized communities. Global membership to this nonprofit organization is free for everyone, with access to coaching, mentorship, training, jobs, and workshops. During the upcoming Summit at the end of March, there are opportunities to interact and network with the LGBTQIA technical community.
Born in Beijing and educated in America, Fei-Fei Li is an artificial intelligence pioneer. In 2017 she co-founded nonprofit AI4ALL to educate the next generation of AI leaders. The mission was to 'create a world where diverse perspectives, voices, and experiences unlock AI’s potential to benefit humanity'. However, Twitter erupted in June 2020 when a pixelated image of former President Barack Obama turned into a high-resolution photo of a white man, highlighting bias in popular online programs. With only 22% of women in the AI global workforce, inclusivity is critical in the actual and artificial world. Dedicated to increasing diversity in AI research and policy, at the end of 2020, AI4ALL had impacted 12,300 people globally through programs and outreach.
Reshma Saujani is an American lawyer, politician, civil servant, and, in 2010, the first Indian American woman to run for the United States Congress. Visiting schools during the pre-election campaign, she noticed identical gender demographics in every computer classroom. Disturbed by the low number of females, she founded the nonprofit Girls Who Code in 2012 to ensure young women are competent and proficient enough to lead in the industry. They have 8500 programs available worldwide. With 450,000 girls currently coding, they are on track to close the gender gap in new entry-level tech jobs by 2030.
Elissa Freiha, an Emirati-Lebanese-American businesswoman, is the founder of Womena, a feminist media company. Launched in 2018 with a mission to accelerate equality and diversity, Womena is an inspiring storytelling platform. Full of compelling content, women feel positively impacted and accurately represented. Elissa is also an executive producer at Womentum Life, a documentary series for female-led start-ups in the Middle East. She believes inspiration in the female workforce will pay huge dividends.
A stock market analyst at the age of 16, Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Adwa Al-Dakheell is the face of Arabian youth. Author, poet, pilot, and musician, in 2018, she founded Falak Investment Hub to help foster the next generation of Saudi entrepreneurs. The unique programs and services focus on early and growth-stage technology investments. Adwa's vision to empower women entrepreneurs will help balance the scales - currently one woman to three men - in the industry.
With inclusion, diversity, proficiency, inspiration, empowerment, and free of gender discrimination, women will transform the future of technology and #BreakTheBias.