Happy International Women’s Day!
We at Killi celebrate all the strong, intelligent, bright, curious, powerful, loving, fierce, proficient women in our lives and in the Tech community that ask the hard questions and work every single day to make this world a better place. While we are proud of having a wonderfully diverse team, we also want to acknowledge the societal disparities women face every single day. Did you know there is a significant “gender gap” when it comes to digital privacy? While women have greater concerns than men about digital privacy, research shows that they also have less awareness of the potential threats posed by technology, data, and interface design.
This isn’t so surprising, when you learn that only 23% of employees at Facebook, Apple, and Google are women, while decision-making processes in technology and digital policy are still dominated by men. Work in tech companies is highly sex segregated, with men dominating engineering of products and women heavily represented in legal, safety, and customer care roles.
Given that women disproportionately face fetishization, harassment, and threats of violence online, this lack of representation in the technology sector and relevant decision-making processes is significant. It is only by involving women in policy discussions that these issues can be better tackled. We need to increase the input women have on the design of technology and the policies that affect our online lives as risks encountered primarily by women are often left unconsidered.
This imbalance combined with pressures of external bias from peers, friends, and family, creates a vicious cycle where women become less digitally literate and aware of the risks they encounter online. As a result, women’s ability to take adequate measures or demand that companies improve their products is compromised.
A clear example of this disparity can be seen with VPN use. VPNs are a key tool for improving privacy and security online, as they encrypt a user’s data, making it unreadable to their ISP and anyone spying on their network. In 2018, Global Web Index reported that only 32% of VPN users were women.
Forbes also reported in 2016 that, while women are more likely to make changes in behavior to protect their privacy, men are more likely to use encrypted email (10% vs. 7%), password managers (20% vs. 17%), privacy-enhancing browsers (18% vs. 13%), and two-factor authentication (15% vs. 12%).
These statistics show that women are less likely to use tools to safeguard their data, leaving them more at risk than men when going online.
It’s important that women become more aware of the tools they can use to protect their data, but also critical that they be involved in design and decision making.
Women (50% of the population) need to become part of the data privacy conversation. Not only will this be a proper representation of society, but this will strengthen laws and online safety for everyone.
Killi knows that Digital privacy is a feminist issue. The team at Killi is working hard to bring attention to the lack of diversity in the tech and data privacy industry and bridge that gap. Highlighting these issues on our blog is just one of the many steps we’re taking to detail out the fundamental disparities and propel meaningful conversations to shift and re-shape the industry to be more inclusive.
OCTOBER 16, 2019 | Katherine Barnett