07 Mar AiroAV Announced: International Women’s Day: Tech’s women leaders on how to t…
International Women’s Day serves as a much-needed opportunity to celebrate women in technology, but perhaps more importantly, it’s an opportunity for female leaders in the industry to share their expertise.
With that in mind, we’ve turned the floor over to some of the key women in the tech field, asking them all the same question:
“If you were asked about how to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy and what tech’s role is in creating and enabling the workforce of the future, what would you say?”
Not coincidentally, it’s the same question that was posed to Ivanka Trump at CES 2020, an appearance filled with controversy.
But it remains a relevant question, given the speed at which the digital economy evolves. With tech playing an increasingly important role in driving the US economy, it’s also a sector providing many employment opportunities for women, from engineering to design to leading some of the world’s biggest companies. Women can also play a crucial role in improving tech for better in the future — reducing bias in the field of, for example.
Estimates from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, however, suggest that women are more at risk of losing their jobs to automation than men are. In the US, 55% of American women are part of the labor force, according to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor.
For all American workers to thrive in the coming decades, it’s important to prepare them now for what’s yet to come. That means reconsidering what we think we know about education and being prepared to listen to new ideas.
Here are the answers we got to our question (edited in some cases for brevity):
Founder of the Webby Awards, author of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week
“We need to remember that the most valuable skills for American students in the digital economy are our human skills. Skills like empathy, creativity and intuition will never be replaced by automation, AI or robots.
“For most of human history, we survived by creating an agricultural economy. Three hundred years ago we shifted to an industrial economy. Just 50 years ago, we initiated the knowledge economy. And today? We’re approaching another seismic shift … some people are calling the Human Economy.
“The skills we need most in today’s world in any profession boil down to being human. These skills have been the engine of innovation and survival since the beginning of civilization … but we’ve arrived at a time when your human skills are just as important as your knowledge. To develop these human skills we need to build in a regular practice of turning off the screens, looking people in the eye and remembering how to connect authentically.”
Founder of the Heart of Tech, a technology market research and consultancy firm focused on tech in education and diversity in tech
“One cannot talk about how tech will impact the future of work without talking about the need to rethink our education system. While over the past two years there has been a big focus around STEAM, most schools are still using the same teaching methods we have for years, where the teacher is the center of the learning experience rather than encouraging kids to problem solve, teach one another and by doing so develop skills like communication and collaboration.”
Founder and former chair of the US branch of advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty and founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn
“I believe tech has a huge role to play for students and workers in driving the new American dream.
“The old American dream has historically been individually focused — the idea that you, on your own, strive and achieve entirely through your own efforts. In the new digital age, the internet enables us all to connect in a way we never could before. The new American dream is about the fact that you’re not alone, and it’s not all up to you — there are others like you who share the same values, want the same things and will band together with you to make it happen.
“Technology enables you to find those people, to collaborate with them, to work with them, to collective shared benefit. I believe the business model of the future is Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (financial profit, and social profit). That, to me, is the new American dream, and tech is what can make it happen. But the key thing is not just the technology, but who creates it and what they do with it.
“The future of work is being transformed now through the vision, lens, creativity, talent and skills of women, people of color, LGBTQ, the disabled — everyone who is ‘other,’ those of us who don’t have access to equal opportunity in the white male-dominated corporate world, who are therefore starting our own businesses, and who are demonstrating in those businesses a move away from traditional white male corporate values, and a redesigning and reimagining of business and of work from the ground up. We are literally starting our own industries. A key part of this transformation is fluidity in the concept of ‘workplace’ and the environments in which we choose to work.
“Tech, automation, AI, the blockchain and, concurrently, a revaluing…