The lack of women in prominent tech jobs is building a “life threatening” gender bias into apps and devices, the Culture Secretary will warn. Nicky Morgan is due to address tech executives in London today, telling them that sexist technology, which is built for men by men, is “making life harder for women” and can
The lack of women in prominent tech jobs is building a “life threatening” gender bias into apps and devices, the Culture Secretary will warn.
Nicky Morgan is due to address tech executives in London today, telling them that sexist technology, which is built for men by men, is “making life harder for women” and can “lead to physical harm”.
She will also call on social media giants to curb the “relentless harassment and abuse” that is driving women offline.
The cabinet minister’s comments come after a survey by the entrepreneur organisation Tech Nation revealed that women make up only 19 percent of tech roles in the UK and account for only 23 percent of directors in the tech sector.
Addressing a private meeting at the Reform think tank, Mrs Morgan will say the workforce imbalance means women are “not at the table” when key decisions are being made about new technology and artificial intelligence.
She will say: “If women are not at the table when these discussions are taking place then there is a risk that gender inequality will be embedded. And it is no exaggeration to say that this can be life threatening.”
Mrs Morgan will add: “Some of it is mildly annoying, like smart phones being designed according to men’s hands, rather than women’s hands.
“But in extreme cases it could lead to physical harm, like how for decades crash test dummies represented men’s bodies, meaning women were more likely to be injured in a car crash.”
The Government has recently unveiled a number of initiatives to address the imbalance, including doubling its funding to over £350,000 for the Tech Talent Charter, which encourages companies to publish data on their workforce and overhaul recruitment practices.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has also pledged £84 million to improve computing training in schools and attract more girls into the subject.
The Culture Secretary will also speak today about her own experiences receiving “countless abusive messages” on social media, including death threats.
In May, it emerged Mrs Morgan had had a panic alarm installed in her house after receiving violent threats from a constituent on Facebook.