As I pondered the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – DigitALL and Embracing Equality – it struck me how much we take for granted in our always-on, always-connected world.
Technology has opened up countless opportunities for everyone, including women. At least those who have the necessary digital access to take advantage of it. Sadly, lack of access or opportunity can be a socio-economic byproduct, but also a geographic or political disadvantage. These realities are a reminder of the still-gaping gender inequality that exists for many women in today’s (modern) world of software-connected devices and things.
Raised by a hardworking, single-handed super-mother, and now being surrounded daily by countless incredible women at JFrog, I am continually reminded of the intense, world-changing power that can be unleashed when women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
While there are many countries and cultures that have made tremendous progress on the march towards gender equity, sadly, we know the same is not true in all parts of the world. And this is one of the reasons we all continue to recognize International Women’s Day; because it brings to light that there are still millions of women across the globe who lack the access and the equality to LEAP FORWARD in the same way as their male counterparts. At JFrog we live by our Codex, which states, “Everyone counts and everyone matters,” and therefore we must demand greater equality for every person.
Tragically, millions and perhaps billions of women still lack access to tools that are considered “basic” in some societies, such as core internet access, connected smartphones or foundational computing and communication devices. In fact, the World Wide Web Foundation tells us that, globally, women may be 50 percent less likely than men (on average) to have internet access. In some countries this increases to more than 80 percent of women without access, with some areas having only 2 percent of women enabled with access to mobile services for finances or economic activity. These are astonishingly tragic statistics.
While there are plenty of examples throughout history of females accomplishing great things and making a lasting impact on society without the help of modern technology, just think of what fully-empowered, tech-enabled women can do, likely in a much shorter time span:
- Marie Curie – Queen of Radioactivity and Nobel Prize Winner – The first person to study the Theory of Radioactivity and discovered we could split an atom.
- Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – Among the first African-American women to work at NASA, pioneering during the “space race.”
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg – Early in her legal career, Ginsburg encountered difficulty in finding employment due to her gender, but she wasn’t discouraged. She went on to become a lawyer and served as a Supreme Court Justice of the United States from 1993 until her death in 2020.
- Dr. Shirley Jackson – A modern-day female inventor, Shirley made history as the first black woman to graduate with a PhD. from MIT in 1973. She then began to work at Bell Laboratories, where she completed research that led to such creations as solar cells, fiber optic cables, portable fax machines, touch-tone telephones, caller ID and call waiting.
These are among the many countless women who shaped the technologies, policies, politics, medicine, philosophies and practices impacting our personal lives, broad communities, how we communicate, heal, explore, and more. They are also good reminders that when you have a great idea plus the passion, commitment, and confidence to make something happen – it will happen, regardless of your gender!
Closer to home, in the JFrog world of software development, security and engineering, we are in an industry that is still primarily male-dominated. According to the American Community Survey from the US Census, women are in only about a quarter of STEM jobs, and still are compensated about 20 percent less than their male counterparts on average. And this is in a supposedly more forward-looking and inclusive, highly-educated society in the United States!
This inequity is something we at JFrog strive to change on a daily basis in our broad hiring philosophy, our leadership teams, and in the composition of our Board of Directors. We are also proud to participate in or support the many organizations that promote Women in DevOps, Girls Who Code, as well as other groups and internal initiatives that aim to empower women’s education and access to technology opportunities.
First and foremost, we are proud to support these causes in our spirit of Care and giving back because this is simply the right thing to do. But it’s also because we recognize that when women are fully included and empowered, our homes, our companies, our communities, our industries and our world are stronger, healthier and more impactful than ever before.
Today, I’m a proud father of three daughters who continue to grow up, and are no longer my “little girls.” They now need me less and less to guide or protect them as their father, and are instead turning into an unstoppable force for change as powerful, impactful, enabled, educated, connected women who are shaping the world that we will live in.
Starting at home, in school systems, at our jobs and then in our societies at large, I believe that by working together we can push ahead to create a DigitALL society, in which every person, regardless of gender, has the same tools and opportunities required to thrive in the digital age.
Every woman – and the world – will be better for it.