While statistics clearly show that women do not have equal representation in positions of power at the largest companies (less than one third of general counsel at Fortune 500 companies are women), there are many prominent female executives in the technology space. From Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, women are making headway in hi-tech corporations. So, what is the role of technology in modern feminism?
CNN digital correspondent Kelly Wallace examined this issue after taking part in a panel on the intersection of technology and empowerment at this year’s SXSW festival. She pointed to the technology’s ability to connect women and expose social issues as positive forces, but also recognized the dark side of such connectivity.
One positive effect that technology has had on social issues related to women is through bringing awareness. Social media sites and apps have brought to light the horrors of human trafficking and given a voice to those who advocate for women’s rights around the world. On the other hand, women in the panel recognized that technology has made sex trafficking easier, and noted that the anonymity of Internet message boards allows people to air prejudices that they might otherwise keep to themselves.
The panelists advocated a push to get women a “seat at the table” in technology companies. There are conflicting reports concerning whether more women are enrolling in computer science classes, but the panelists advocated telling young women to “forge their own path.”
While women like Tara Hughes of Turner Broadcasting are champions of women finding a powerful voice in the technology space, others, like the speakers at the Women, Influence & Power in Law conference are proponents of seeing more and more women holding prominent legal positions. The event brings together women inside counsel with women in law firms for the purpose of networking, sharing business, discussing legal topics and advocating for women in leadership positions. For more information on the conference, follow it on Twitter or LinkedIn.