I've just ordered "Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men". I haven't read it yet (obviously), so here's a summary I found:
Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued.
If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman.
For example, did you know that women are more at risk in case of heart attack because they show different symptoms from the classic "left arm pain", and are therefore sent home by the doctor with the only prescription of "resting a bit"?
We work in a sector that is dominated by men, we all know it, and the causes are probably a mix of natural predisposition (to be clear: I'm NOT saying that males are in any way better or more successful; I mean that males may be generally more inclined to be interested in coding - and to be honest I'm not even sure of this) and a bunch of toxic practices that for the sake of simplicity I'll call gatekeeping.
It's not difficult to come across issues around bias in data (starting from what is collected and how) and in algorithms (think all those AI algorithms that end up reinforcing the dominant narrative). It's even easier to come across huge issues in recruiting.
I may be naïve, but up until now I thought all these were solvable problems, and that someday hopefully soon we would all be living in a more equal, fair world.
But not all is up to the hiring manager. Seeing for the first time how the whole world is basically designed to be unfit for women is shocking.
Reading a book is not a lot of work, and it may not do much to change my own biases, but understanding how deeply these issues affect half of our population is a first step towards a better self and a better future.
Our impact goes way beyond the code we write, and I'm wondering: what can we do as a community, and what can I do as a developer/freelancer/employee to not only passively support those in non-privileged positions, but to actively make an impact? I'm looking for concrete actions here.
Ps: I understand this post is concerned with only one part of the problem and it oversimplifies it in the "male vs. female" narrative. I'm aware we should also be talking about races, other genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, etc. But this book, which sparked my post, is specifically about the impact of a male-dominated society on female-body-bearers so to say. Do feel free to expand the discussion in the comments though!