It’s almost 2019 and around the world, women are still being paid much less than men, their earnings are increasing less rapidly, and are less likely to work in high-income areas such as technology which are traditionally dominated by men.

For the past 2 years the news have been populated with stories such as #MeeToo and harassment allegations against big companies like Uber or 500 startups.

The Google internal memo which argued that the low number of women in technical positions was a result of biological differences, rather than discrimination, sparked numerous debates in the media.

Why is the topic of female and minority representation in the world of innovation still such a burning issue? How can we tell a new story about diversity and inclusion? 
How can we build tools to protecthumans from oppression and also to build new freedoms?

New approach: equality as a design issue

A new initiative, hosted by WeAreDevelopers, is set to raise awareness and come up with solutions to some of the inequalities we still find today, especially in the work environment.

Design for Equality is a 6 h workshop during which participants are prototyping digital products and services aimed at a more equal workplace. 

A first edition of the workshop was organized on the 1st of December 2018 in Vienna, by Natalie Korotaeva and Andra Bria.

Participants were guided through a process of theorizing and debating, first by critically looking at what’s missing, whose interests aren’t being represented, and whose truths aren’t being told and secondly, by using design thinking to tell future stories of equality and inclusion. 

Women in Tech Workshop WeAreDevelopers

Asking the right questions

The problems that were being raised ranged from general education on the topic of gender equality ( How to design education to empower girls to believe in their abilities? What if people don’t understand the value of including everyone’s voice?), how we design tech products (How might we ensure product development is an inclusive process in each and every step) to how we could change the hiring process and the work environment in itself.

How does the feminist workplace of the future look like? How can we design the job interviews and the screening processes? How does a job announcement for an equal opportunity company look like? How are raises given? What is the process of being promoted? What levels are women and men represented on? Is there a balance between men and women on a decision-making level? What should a company be doing to fight sexism, racism and homophobia?

Women in Tech Workshop WeAreDevelopers

“These were all questions that were raised during the workshop and the response was very good, we came up with over 45 product and service ideas that could help women and minorities reclaim their spaces and feel empowered.” says Andra Bria.

Results of the workshop

Voice assistants, digital platforms or talkative chatbots were just some of the ideas that got prototyped during the 6 h session. Particularly interesting for the participants were NLP technologies or the Common voice project by Mozilla.

“We believe it is possible to make the workplace more inclusive and make everyone feel empowered to act on their full potential, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, class & so on” says Natalie Korotaeva.

Some of the participants even decided to continue working on with their ideas on a longer term.The two plan on organising a second edition, reach out to even more people and are currently searching for funds.

Women in Tech Workshop WeAreDevelopers

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