Women Shift Digital: An introduction

Ghislaine Boddington is the curator of ‘Women Shift Digital, co-founder and creative director of body>data>space. She introduced us to Women Shift Digital Conference at Level39 on 26 November 2013.

Celebrating Women in Digital Careers

Women and men, active talents in the digital sectors have been invited to Women Shift Digital to reflect collectively on the positive impacts women are making with digital-led careers as creatives, managers and executives in creative industries, education, business, design, skills development and the arts.

Women Shift Digital programme of work is to recognise and celebrate the greater benefits gender balance is bringing to the digital and tech marketplace in terms of creativity, user design and economic added value.

‘Underusing the talent, skills, visions and knowledge offered by women is no longer an option – we need to work together, women and men, to design our future’ Ghislaine stated

Gender diversity and equality for women in the digital workplace has been highlighted and promoted in the press and on TV/radio over the last years and has become an imperative and topical debate today.

Underusing the talent, skills, visions and knowledge offered by women is no longer an option

Ghislaine took a larger view on Women’s rights in 2013 and reminded us the necessity of a day like today, taking examples from the iconic figure of Malala and the right to education in Pakistan, the UN Women Empowerment Principles / subtitled Equality Means Business, to the necessity to have an International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) reminding us that in the UK 1 in 4 women will be a victim in domestic violence in their lifetime.

She also referred to UK recent initiatives: the everyday sexism project, a website documenting daily experiences of sexism and harassment and the ‘Jane Austen on Banknote’ campaign which set of a series of threats at their female advocators on Twitter.

There are still only 22% of female MPs in Britain, and we are very lucky to have one of them with us today, Chi Onwurah – Newcastle upon Tyne Central MP.

The digital/tech industries are relatively new and although there are a growing number of women networks advocating gender balance and equality worldwide the gender balance figures still look bleak and we need improvement.

Network the Networks and Influence the Influencers

Ghislaine gave the examples of many excellent networks such Black Girls Code in the US, TeenTech in the UK and many groups in the room today and that have been part creating the event, Codasign, Flossie, Geek Girl Meetup and the Stemettes.

Applauding the great diversity of people present in the room, Ghislaine invited us to take the opportunity today to learn from each other, network across sectors and make new partners.

Our participants and panelists are UK and international leaders and movers from micro-enterprises, SMEs, institutions to companies, in the creative industries, education, business, design, skills development and arts sectors. Referring to this very unique mix of participants and the balance between women and men, Ghislaine reminded us ‘Women Shift Digital’ was not a conference to discuss the well-known and obvious problems but rather to share good practice and knowledge, to collectively come to positive solutions from different scenarios and maybe more questions too.

Ghislaine reminded us that women and men are living daily under the pressure and influence of gender stereotype in the media. One of the key aims of the conference is to look for answers on how to stop the objectification of women in their work, social and personal environments as in the media, advertising, gaming and entertainment industries.

Reminding us to ‘be mindful to each other’ Ghislaine guided us through the day programme that features a series of keynotes, speeches, showcases and breakout groups debates.

A bit of context

As a female led interdisciplinary design collective, body>data>space are recognised as international long term figures involved in the women in digital debates and networks.

‘Women Shift Digital’ in its current form directly emerged from our ‘Robots and Avatars’ EU project, initiated in the UK in 2009 with key partner NESTA and other EU partners KIBLA and AltArt. In May 2013 body>data>space premiered a series of Women in Technology debates at an European level in Capital of Culture Maribor (Slovenia) with European inputs leading to a short intermediary report looking at actions and recommendations that have to be taken on individual and collective levels to empower women of all ages and backgrounds with digital skills in their daily, family and professional life.