Microsoft, Women And 'Pink' Technology

Microsoft released a special version last week of a twice-monthly published podcast that focuses on women in business and technology. The podcast celebrates International Women’s Day.

The hosts of the podcast, Colleen O’Brien and Sonia Dara, interviewed Toni Townes-Whitley, who holds the new role of corporate vice president of industry at Microsoft. The goal of the team is to flow with the changes in a variety of industries.  

But Townes-Whitley has another charter to keep woman excited about technology. She refers to it in the podcast as the “pink color.”

As the types of job change based on new technology, the gender gap in the workforce keeps widening. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020 there will be one new STEM job for every four jobs lost to men. Women will only see one new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) job for every 20 jobs lost. Other data suggests that women hold the highest number of jobs that have the potential to be automated.

Automation in search and programmatic media buying will not eliminate the jobs, but it will change them. And all the data leads to the same conversation, Townes-Whitley said. “We have to be aware of Pink-colored jobs and the impact of technology … on the workforce,” she said. “For the first time, really since 2006, we see that in the gender gap study by the World Economic Forum we’re actually moving backward.”

For the first time in 11 years, the gap continues to widen. The root cause, she says, centers on technology. Women are in jobs that are “ripe” for automation and artificial intelligence. This is why women will be disproportionately impacted negatively.

Townes-Whitley said that Microsoft has started a handful of programs to get and retain women -- especially those right out of college, who are excited about technology.

In the podcast, O’Brien and Data talks about an event called #MeToo in Seattle Tech: What Men Can Do, a gathering where male allies learned more about how to support women at work.

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