How Sexism in the Tech Industry is dangerous to us all


In 2018 women around the world have witnessed a massive leap forward in the fight against sexism and sexual harassment. Harvey Weinstein was the first in a long line of men to fall from grace when allegations of his heinous crimes were bought to light. 

The #MeToo campaign helped break through some of the stigma associated with talking about this type of abuse and strong women across the world came together to tell their stories and empower each other.



For the first time, sexism was exposed in the cold, harsh light of day and the world was shocked and repulsed. It was no longer taboo for victims to band together and tell their stories. Yet sexism still exists below the surface in most industries. (Women experience huge pay gaps, they are passed over for jobs because they might want children and they are propositioned by men of power).

The tech industry is no different. It’s a male-dominated environment and women have reported male co-workers deliberately making them uncomfortable with talk about sex workers and being passed over for jobs based on how “hot” they are. (Ellen Pao’s story is attached below if you want to read about her ordeal.)




The industry is actually starting to suffer because of its sexist ways. Don’t believe me?

Look at the technology that has been created.

Take Fitbit for example. It is great for tracking steps, heart rate and calories burned. But have you ever used it to track your period? Women of all ages know that menstrual cycles can be long and short. Sometimes menstruation can last two weeks or longer. (Trust me, no one is happy about it).


So, why can’t I record a period lasting longer than ten days? According to Fitbit, it’s impossible. According to Fitbit, it doesn’t happen. Why? Because there were no women on the team that created it. 

Without a menstrual cycle, men struggle to comprehend the different ways in which our bodies can throw us a curve ball. (It might not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. It’s hard to understand unless you have experienced it yourself).


Even fertility trackers (literally designed for tracking the menstrual cycle) struggle to identify everything that can happen to women during their cycle.

Why? Well, according to a recent study only 18% of roles in the tech industry are filled by women (that covers engineering, designing and everything in-between). Please don’t ask me to give you the statistics on how many of those women are in senior positions. (Hint: it isn’t a lot).


Artificial Intelligence is having a hard time too. Due to the lack of women in teams working on AI, it has trouble understanding female voices and identifying women’s faces. The pitch and tone difference in women’s voices throws AI off.

With the world hurtling towards an AI revolution, this could be dangerous and create even bigger divides between men and women. AI learns based on previous experiences. If they have little or no contact with women then it will continue to struggle to identify females.



The awful thing about this type of sexism is we convince ourselves it isn’t happening, but to some women, it really is. 

We have all read stories in the papers about women who have lied about awful things happening to them (Liam Allan acquitted of rape charges after texts from the “victim” were revealed) and I think that discourages many women who have honestly experienced abuse from coming forward. But all women should feel safe and they should feel free to pursue any career they want to. 



Jobs should be given based on merit and hard work and not what lies beneath our clothes.

But for today, we can all dream of a future where that can happen.

Written By: Yazmine Howes

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