Friday, July 6

Women, Visibility and Technology: Some of the Keywords from the Global Citizen Media Summits 2012

Giants of the Internet Panel Photo by @LauraSchne
Women visibility remains an issue in spite of their huge presence on new media and the blogosphere.  

It was an interesting experience for me, listening to the conversation between two giant social networkers: Google and Global Voices, make allusion to women representation. 
“The question on women representation in many conferences is useful but in this conference it is not so useful.” Said Rebecca Mackinnon, vociferously to Bob Boorstin from Google, moments after he made an introductory remark which drew the attention of us all, over 300 gathered at the 6th Global Voices Summit 2012 in Nairobi on 02 July,  that the panel: “Giants of the Internet: What role and responsibility”  had a 0% women representation. 
Rebecca Mackinon and Zuckerman co-founded Global Voices, GV, in 2005. Since, this international community of bloggers and citizen journalists have continue to report and blog from around the world on topical issues.  That notwithstanding, bringing women’s voices on board remain a concern as well.   
tweet conversation btwn Judith and Me during GV 2012

Nevertheless, before Bob’s panel discussion remark, on which were: Ivan Sigal (Global Voices), Ramzi Jaber (, Max Schrems (Europe vs. Facebook), I had begun conversation on one-on-one with a few GV and panelist, asking questions to panelists to commend on women position  and their influence within the blogosphere and social [new] media.
This Archipp Yepmou from Internet Sans Frontiére shared his most recent experience during an ICT-Blogging seminar training which took place somewhere in Chad/Cameroon boarders where he noticed that in the forum, women were absent. While the women present, he added, “were those organizing the event”.
Judith Gunter, in addition, also observed further that throughout the panel discussions,  on “how do small African Nations Grab the World’s Attention?” she co-moderates, there was only one feminine example; Helena Ferro Gouveia, a Guinea Bissau Journalist who now lives in Bonn, Germany. 
It is however no doubt that women visibility in the online networks is often overlooked. And even for those women users with more than a million followers like Oprah, Lady Gaga, GenevieveNnaji, Omotola, and Martha Karua are still not recognized.

Women and Technology
During the Global Voices Summit, Reneta Avila and I suggested to lead a session on “Women and Technology”. And as part of the session activities, we asked participants to name at least a woman who is visible in the technology realm. The exercise was quite stressful, participants say. “It was very difficult to remember these women”.

“Many female friends in Bolivia are programmers, software developers but kind of invisible” said a contributor for Rising Voice, Bolivia.
The truth is – women use the social (new) media and just the way men do. And it is also no news that many women continue to find empowerment through technology, which to some extent has influenced and achieved greater impact in their community and enterprise, yet the paradox is that these feminine networkers remain invisible as social actors in the mainstream media and technology sectors.

Understanding the big question ‘why women are technologically invisible’, one participant asked: How many of us are writing and quoting our sources but including women. This however concurs with one of Judith Gunter tweets, ( responding to my question on GlobalVoices approach to get more feminine bloggers on board having listened to Archipp experienced)  where she said:  @ZoFem @EthanZ Interestingly, many GV bloggers covering the African countries in question are women. But our sources are men.

Clearly, as bloggers, we need to use our writings to make women visible.  We also need to include feminine sources in our search, interviews and research.  And should also balance “the twitter gender, we quote the most?”  And also to always expose our agenda through mainstream media.

more about Global Voices Summit 2012 on twitter: #gv2012 ; Global Voices Summit Blog  GV summit photos on Flickr , Kenyan TV