What men can do to beat sexism in digital

We all know that the digital world has a sexism – and diversity – problem. But how do we fix it?

If there’s been a theme over the summer in the tech world, it’s not been a new product, or a new app, or even a new hot concept.

It’s been sexism. From the Uber diversity problems we’ve written about before, to the Google “memo” that re-ignited the discussion, the tech world has come under greater scrutiny than ever before about some of the ways it behaves. And rightly so.

However, I’m not going to rehash all those issues here. Given that our focus in on getting digital to suck less, let’s look at one of the more useful reactions, one that I don’t think got enough attention at the time.

Researcher danah boyd wrote a cogent post, back at the beginning of last month, explaining what she thinks needs to be done:

I’m not interested in calling people out for sadistic pleasure. I want to see the change that most women in tech long for. At its core, the tech industry is idealistic and dreamy, imagining innovations that could change the world. Yet, when it comes to self-reflexivity, tech is just as regressive as many other male-dominated sectors. Still, I fully admit that I hold it to a higher standard in no small part because of the widespread commitment in tech to change the world for the better, however flawed that fantastical idealism is.

Given this, what I want from men in tech boils down to four Rs

And those Rs are:

  • Recognition
  • Repentance
  • Respect
  • Reparation.

Clearly, danah explains them in much more detail in the post.

It’s a useful framework for men in tech to understand how to bahave better and, through that set of actions, actually work to make the back end of tech a better place for women to work. And if that happens, then maybe, just maybe, our products will be better and digital will such a little less.