Discussions around a women’s progressive platform must link issues of gender and race to STEM and technological innovation. These conversations, in turn, must inform economic policies and Silicon Valley should play a role in ensuring an inclusive workforce.
Economic equality and inclusiveness are central to both the Women’s March and the organizations pushing for greater diversity in the technology industry and this weekend’s massive demonstrations should give hope that a new wave of intersectional feminism is taking hold. One that’s not just about gender, but also social and economic equality tied to democratic values.
By many accounts, the popularity of President Trump’s campaign was tied to his message of bringing back manufacturing jobs — 25 million to be exact — in part by building a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants.
But Mexican immigrants have very little to do with the decline in manufacturing or fall of real wages. Wages for U.S. workers have been falling for decades and a 2016 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report noted that immigration “has an overall positive impact on economic growth in the United States and has small-to-no effects on wages and employment for native-born workers.”
Moreover, an administration concerned about moving women out of poverty and increasing overall wage growth should be focused on the gender wage gap, particularly among women of color. So while it is easy to scapegoat general free trade policies and immigrants for disappearing manufacturing jobs, there is actually something more fundamental at work — the digital revolution — and the changing means of production that come with it.
The rise of artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning have already changed the structure — and bottom line — of manufacturing so if we want to bring back good manufacturing jobs perhaps the administration should be finding innovative ways to train workers, especially women and low-wage workers, for 21st century technology jobs using workforce development dollars.
Organizers of the women’s march published an agenda that shares many of the same objectives as those of us committed to diversity in tech. Both groups need to work together to hold the administration accountable to ensure that the synergy around diversity in tech is not stymied by conservative views.
The sheer number of women, and people of color, that felt compelled to demonstrate this past weekend is a testament to the power of a united front. Politicians and tech companies alike should heed the numbers behind these movements:
· By 2018, women will make up over half of the workforce and by 2050 women of color will be the majority of all women.
- Women in the U.S. alone hold upwards of 5 Trillion dollars in purchasing power
- 70-80% of all consumer purchasingpower is controlled by women as a result of their buying power and influence.
- For the first time, women are outpacing men in educationalattainment.
- Over 50% of the wealth in America will be in the hands of women by 2030.
The women’s march exemplified that we all have more in common than what divides us, especially when it comes to economic security and opportunity, we just need to stay focused and not get sidetracked by #alternativefacts.