I have been mulling over the idea of writing this post for a while now. It was mostly triggered by a video I saw on Android Central. I was excited that they finally had an (apparently) female-centric podcast with female hosts, called “Girls Gone Gadgets”, with hosts Georgia and Ashley. Now maybe the play on “Girls Gone Wild” in the title should’ve tipped me off, or even their logo, (which I think is supposed to be a pink heart with Android antennae and an Apple bite, but now that I look back, sure looks like breasts in a tank top), but I went in hopeful that Android Central was finally addressing the growing female smartphone audience and providing us with some content to consume.
Instead of clicking on a full episode, I thought I’d start with a peek behind the scenes and see who these women were, and clicked on this video Ashley Esqueda put together to describe how she develops her weekly show for Mobile Nations, “Monday Brief”:
I was so disappointed. This seemingly-smart girl made fun of the work she does to produce the show, and even talked about her boobs. Even if she’s being sarcastic, I just had really hoped for something different.
But I decided to go ahead and watch the “Girls Gone Gadgets” Pilot thinking (based on the title) that they might be aiming that show more toward women. I figured Ashley’s behind-the-scenes video was probably intended to just be silly, and that they would probably be more informative in the actual show. I wasn’t surprised at all when the women were introduced “Charlie’s Angels” style, and still held out hope for the episode. Ashley started out by saying she was nervous in front of the camera, and immediately turned what she said into a sex joke and said “there are boys in the chat room”. She explained that they were going to talk tech by saying “don’t be afraid that we’ll talk about cramps and the perfect shade of lipstick”. I was losing hope fast, and it was becoming clear by the chosen phrases that I was not in this show’s target audience.
Ashley and Georgia go on to have a discussion about Android tablets vs iPads, then start talking about what not to do with your smartphone on a date, and Georgia says “Let’s help some guys out”. I honestly stopped watching at that point because they hadn’t even yet addressed that there may be some females that came across their podcast and might be interested in learning how the women used their devices. It was clearly produced for the apparently majority-male audience Android Central already has, rather than using female hosts talking about how they use gadgets to attract more female readers and viewers. I think Android Central and Mobile Nations missed a big opportunity there.
However, it’s not an uncommon mistake. You may have recently heard some of the recent hubbub related to “booth babes” at tech conferences, sparked by this BBC video (featuring a one-time WomenWithDroids contributor, Taylor), and the role of women in the tech industry is a valid discussion to have. Just how do tech manufacturers see women?
Now let me be clear, I have no problem with companies that use sexy models to attract attention to their products, I just assume their aim is to attract men. I have no problem with tech blogs using hot female hosts – I’m sure they can talk tech just fine while attracting a large male audience. What I worry about is the apparent lack of female voices in the industry, or more specifically, the lack of people talking to female tech consumers.
I say “apparent” because I don’t believe there is actually a lack of women in tech. A growing number of women are working in technology-related fields, and there are several women with prominent roles in tech journalism that aren’t just writing for men. Some are listed in this list of “Women in Tech You Need to Follow on Twitter“. Most of all, there has been a noticeable increase in women consuming technology, and it’s time companies took note.
When I started this blog with CraftLass, she was the only other woman I had met that had an Android phone. Remember how the original Droid was being marketed as the “powerful robot” alternative to the “pretty princess” iPhone? Now, I see as many women with smartphones as men, and a high number of them have Android phones.
In February 2010, 73% of Android owners were male. In 2011, Nielsen published numbers on which apps women and men used, so at least businesses were starting to wonder how women used their phones, but I couldn’t find any numbers on how many of their survey respondents were female. I published a survey here on Women With Droids in June 2011 and got over 150 responses, so I knew women were buying Androids in increasing numbers.
More recent articles show that women buy more technology than men (4.7 tech products on average in 2010 vs 4.2 for men), more women (88%) buy technology than men (83%), women download more music and movies than men do, and women spend more time on fewer websites, showing engagement and loyalty.
Barnes and Noble announced that 75% of Android-based Nook Color tablet owners were women, and I’d venture a guess that more than half of Kindle Fire owners are women, too. I have looked, but haven’t found any recent reliable stats about the breakdown of male and female Android users, so please let me know if you come across any. Check out this great TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee about “Why Women Rule the Internet”, which explains that when it comes to social networking and online shopping, women participate at a higher rate than men do.
Women use technology. Women are educated. Women have purchasing power. So, why do tech blogs, conferences, and gadget marketers insist on continuing to focus their efforts on attracting men? My guess is that it’s because, unfortunately, the majority of decision-makers in these companies are men.
So, instead of just complaining about it, I would like to do something about it. Women With Droids was started as a blog written by women for women to help us make the most of our smartphones. If the “big blogs” won’t do it, we will.
I am starting to build a team of women to have online video chats (low-cut shirts not required!) about how we (the female half of the population) use apps to make our daily lives better, write articles about apps we’ve tried and whether or not we recommend them (like we have been doing here for a while, but at a faster pace), and to basically be the go-to source for women with Android phones.
So, are you with me?
I want and need your help! If you want to write an app review (or 10!) for us, if you have an idea to contribute, if you want to participate in a video chat, or just want to help spread the word about Women With Droids, let me know in the comments, and I’ll be in touch to get this all organized and start growing Women With Droids into the blog it was always meant to be! Even if you don’t want to play an active role, even just commenting on our posts and sharing our articles helps a lot!!