CES 2020: Where Were All the Women?
As we come away from another year at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), we are reminded of something that we wrote about several years ago. CES, usually the home of the bleeding edge, has a depressingly old-fashioned problem. A lack of women in positions of power and visibility.
In 2018, we wrote about the lack of women in tech and what the causes might be. The piece opens by referencing Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s 2016 CES address. It is disheartening that, in 2020, we are still having the same conversation around the underrepresentation of women at one of tech’s largest expos.
Why Do We Need Women in Tech, Anyway?
It’s important that women are represented at CES (and in technology in general), not for the sake of box-ticking diversity but because there are so many qualified, inspiring women in tech and everyone misses out by not hearing their voices.
By having a diverse group of people working on a problem, coming up with ideas, and sharing their unique experiences and knowledge, you get better results. People with different lived experiences are likely to come up with different ideas.
Missing the Obvious
Unfortunately, history is littered with examples of groups of all-male teams missing things which would have seemed obvious to any woman, had she been involved in the conversation. When Apple launched its “comprehensive” health tracker in 2014, women were quick to point out that they had forgotten one rather important detail: a period tracker.
While we can only speculate on the demographics of the design team who came up with this health tracker I feel certain that, had there been any women involved, the option to track menstruation wouldn’t have been overlooked.
This might have been an embarrassing mistake for Apple but it wasn’t dangerous, which is something that can’t be said for all male-centric design.
It’s only recently that car-safety tests have involved a female crash test dummy. Even now, the most commonly used dummy is 1.77m tall, weighs 76kg and has male muscle-mass proportions. Female crash test dummies are only used in some regulatory tests and even then they are often tested only in the passenger seat.
This probably goes some way to explaining why, when a woman is involved in a car crash, she is 17% more likely to die.
The Bottom Line
It also shouldn’t be ignored that more diversity can improve a company’s revenue. In 2018, a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. The finding that diversity improves innovation is particularly important in the tech world, where innovation is all-important.
If today’s tech companies want to stand out from the pack they would do well to begin by widening their hiring pool, finding ways to combat their unconscious biases during the hiring process, and employing a more diverse workforce.
At Pod, we’re happy to say that our team members are hired because of the skills and qualities they bring to the company and nothing else.
The Need to Lead
Attending CES this year on behalf of Pod were our colleagues Sam Colley, Mirjam Bulsink, Alistair Elliott, Ghazaleh Jahromi, Carolina Messia and Madie Whalen. Over half of the Pod attendees were women. That was pure coincidence and happened simply because we have a diverse pool of talented people working at Pod Group. Ghazaleh spoke on a panel organized by IMC, titled ‘From NB-IoT to 5G, Your Wireless IoT Roadmap’.
CES is a leader in new inventions, ideas and technologies. Next year, we hope that they lead the way in including a diverse group of qualified experts in their panels and speaking slots.
Of course, diversity is about much more than just gender and we are proud to have a brilliant, multicultural team who bring with them a wealth of different experiences. Many of our staff members came to Pod with experience from outside the world of IoT connectivity and were hired because of their talent and ability to learn. They’ve gone on to bring new perspectives and ideas to the company that have proved invaluable.
We’re glad to have every one of our team members on board.