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Google: These 4 things need to happen for a “gender equitable internet”

Google has released a new report, “Towards Gender Equity Online”, during which is has laid out four areas for web developers

Google’s report suggests that there are fewer women online than men in two-thirds of countries around the world. This could be easy to explain if you’re using the internet while not being a white man. If you are a white man (hi, hello) it’s still easy to see the abuse firsthand as it plays out on social networks.

Google’s reports point to this sort of malicious activity, in addition to safety threats like cyberstalking and the sharing of personal content without permission as reasons why women might limit the amount of participation they put in online.

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To try to address the problem of gender imbalance, Google conducted interviews and surveys with nearly 4,000 participants in places around the world, with women in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan taking part over the last year.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but there are a lot of reasons that a gender-equitable internet is good for everyone. To help achieve this goal, Google has suggested four pain points that need to be address so that we can move towards a better internet: access, content and community, privacy, and safety.

These feed into each other. Google suggests that because Women can’t get online when, where and however they want, this impacts their ability to find relevant content and online communities for their wants and needs, and not finding this means they don’t find comfortable places to create content or participate. The end result of this is that women don’t “feel fully in control of their online identities,” meaning issues with privacy and safety.

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Moving away from a western-focused approach has meant that Google can get deeper insight into some of the problems affected people elsewhere. Primarily, a problem that online services are often designed with a “one device, one user” mentality, which the tech giant has found simply isn’t the case.

Google has suggested a few different steps for creators of technology looking to create a better internet for all genders. We’ve reprinted them below:

  • Gather metrics, like 28-day active users, and break them down by gender to identify and address any gender gaps
  • Conduct interviews with people across the gender spectrum to understand their user experiences
  • Analyze existing data, like surveys, and look for gender-related themes and correlations

“As a billion more people come online,” adds Google. “We see a great opportunity to be fair and equitable to all gender experiences.”

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