Why Women Are Crucial in Design and Tech

I was chatting with a woman at a tech conference a while back about sexism in the industry. She rolled her eyes: “Oh, have I got a story for you.” A couple years ago, she was working at a large company’s Silicon Valley innovation center. She was excited. Her company was partnering with a fashion brand to produce a new “fashion-forward” women’s smartwatch, and she would be leading the design research. But when she walked into the kickoff meeting, her stomach sank: she was the only woman at the table.

While the men droned on about their wives, using them as proxies for the “female market,” she hatched a research plan to find out what women actually wanted from a smartwatch. More than a thousand respondents later, she brought her results back to the group. The top insight: women really wanted their smartwatch to help them discreetly keep an eye on things during meetings. But the men wouldn’t listen: women want apps for shopping, not work.

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