Twenty-two years later, and a recent essay written by Musimbi Kanyoro, the CEO of the Global Fund for Women (GFfW), has me thinking about that toolbox again. On reading the title, “Technology is a Women’s Human Rights Issue,” I heard my grandfather’s words and then my own: How much technological progress have women made in 2015? For many young girls in India, for example, the computer in the home and the mobile phone lying idly on the kitchen table aren’t for her. Like the DIY kit that intrigued my ten-year-old self, those are men’s tools, too.
After the Arab Spring in 2010 the United Nations declared internet access a basic human right. Yet in 2013, only 40 percent of the world’s population had access and, more shockingly, an estimated 200 million fewer women than men were logging on in 2014, with 21 percent less women likely to own a mobile phone. As Kanyoro explains in her essay, that number is set to rise to a staggering 350 million women within three years if we do nothing about it.
But tackling the ever-widening digital gender gap is by no means a small task. The media is saturated with headlines over online harassment and internet trolls, while a recent Guardian news story revealed that the percentage of women working in digital jobs in the UK has fallen from 33 percent in 2002 to 27 percent today. This monthTwitter apologized for holding a staff ‘frat house’ party while midway through a gender-discrimination lawsuit.