Introduction to the Internet of Women

During my career at Cisco and in my current role as CTO of New Frontiers and Engineering, I have the opportunity to travel to all continents of the world seeing the development of technologies first hand. In this age of digitization and the merging of sectors, I also see the emergence of what I like to call The Internet of Women.

What stands out about this new wave of technologies is that a female perspective in its formation is critical. Today we live in an exciting time where innovation happens everywhere and there is a tremendous opportunity globally for governments, corporations, and communities to bridge the gender gap as they lay the infrastructure for this next boom.

I invited a group of industry leaders, academics, and writers representing several regions of the world to work with me on an upcoming book called “The Internet of Women, Why It Matters” sharing their personal insights, observations, and research. Our goal is to develop a new social science for women in technology to sustainably transform this industry.

We will focus on topics including:

  • Firsthand experiences from women who are leaders in emerging technologies such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. What unique opportunities do open source platforms in particular offer to women? How do experiences vary for women working in such fields if they’re starting their own company versus working within a large corporation?
  • Over the past decade, how have trends and opportunities for women in technology differed across the world from North America, Africa, to the Far East?
  • What countries, corporations, and communities are investing most in STEM and STEAM initiatives? What has the impact been and what are recommendations to continue to evolve these programs?
  • An increasing number of technology platforms such as Pinterest and Etsy are female dominated. What new initiatives are such companies doing to support women and are they being measured differently than what traditional companies have done in the past?
  • Men play a critical role in the success of gender equality. Young people in particular aged 15–24 have been hard at work identifying and developing solutions to global problems using technology. Are millennial men in particular setting a new precedence in supporting equality in the work place and in society?

In September, Lean In and Mckinsey released Women in the Workplace highlighting that 70% of CEO’s they surveyed said gender diversity was a top priority. However their study found that less than half of the employees believed so. While many companies have begun publishing their diversity statistics and are experimenting with ways to attract and retain female talent — there is still a long way to go in correcting gender imbalances that deter women from pursuing executive positions within their companies. Multiple studies have shown that the value of diversity has proven to boost productivity and the bottom line within all levels of a company from entry level to the boardroom.

Yet the absence of women in the tech arena oftentimes goes unnoticed. Take for instance the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which recently celebrated 150 years of its existence yet could not highlight one single woman inventor or leader.

The next wave is not technology for technologies sake but technology that gets things done in one’s day-to-day life. As we are at the emerging stages of the next exciting boom in digitization and the Internet of Things, my friend Michael Wellman, CEO of Virgil Security, tells me he’s willing to bet that a larger than historic proportion of innovation in this space will be driven by real women solving real problems. From connected homes and cars to monitoring our health through smart devices, a woman’s view point in this new age of digitization has never been more critical. I invite you to follow our publication, the Internet of Women and be part of this movement.