Using Technology to Lower the Costs of Being a Women (My Hopper Poster)

Lowering the Cost of Being a Women Using Technology

Here’s part of my poster application. Above is what I made:

Statement of Topic: Using Technology to Lower the Cost of Being a Woman

Summary: It costs more to live as a woman than as a man. This cost can be measured with money: increased health insurance costs[1] and lower wages.[2] It can also be measured in less quantitative but no less real terms: increased likelihood of gender violence[3] and a lower chance of learning to read.[4] The makers of technology have done a great deal to lower the cost of being a woman: this poster will focus on breakthroughs in contraception research, pay equity in the United States, violence prevention using social media and educational support for girls to perhaps inspire new innovations to improve women’s lives.

Significance and Relevance of the Topic

Problem and Motivation: An average of three women a day are murdered by an intimate partner in the U.S.[5] One in four women have been sexually assaulted by the time they graduate college.[6] In my experience teaching self-defense and anti-street harassment classes for five years, I have never met a woman who has not been followed, whistled at, groped, or otherwise harassed while in public. The harms which result from having less education and less money are similarly dire: when women lose a percentage of their earnings to pay discrimination, they have less money to fund professional development or support social justice work on behalf of other women. People who develop technology for women and women who develop technology have had, are having, and will continue to have a profound impact on our place in the world.

When women and men who develop technology do not include women’s experiences, it can lead to technology failures as well as missed opportunities. A small but telling example comes from the bathrooms of Carnegie Mellon University’s Doha, Qatar campus. One of the cultural traditions in Qatar is that most women wear black and most men wear white. Because the sensors on the bathroom sinks were only tested by men, the electronic faucets refused to turn on when presented with a black form because could not “see” a woman standing in front of them. Aside from being irritating, this may have increased the spread of disease among female students and faculty.

This poster will summarize four exceptional examples of technologies which lowered the cost of being a woman and hopefully spark new innovations. This poster is appropriate for the conference theme, “Are we there yet?”, because it is shameful that half the human population has more negative outcomes.

[1] Brown, Jennifer. “Women pay up to 50% more for health insurance premiums.” Denver Post. 25 October 2009.

[2] Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “On International Women’s Day, Close in Gender Wage Gap Does Not Mean Progress.” The Sacramento Bee. 8 March 2012.

[3] UNFPA. “Ending Widespread Violence Against Women.”

[4] Tembon, Mercy and Lucia Fort. “Girls’ Education in the21st Century: Table 5.4 Effects of Literacy and Numeracy on Occupational Outcome, by Genderand Age Group.” The World Bank. php

[5] National Organization for Women. “Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics/” 2005.

[6] One in Four. “How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?”

Inspirational Quote:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”–Madeleine Albright

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