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Why we need to play the gender card
3 mins read

Why we need to play the gender card

Hashtags that identify us as women founders and leaders are another way of telling 'herstory' and increasing visibility; both critical to women's empowerment. By Donna Fisher, Founder of woman-led SheSaw, a tech start up on a mission to increase women's visibility through AR public art, NFT gaming and digital tourism. Being a woman tech founder, my social feeds are packed with the hastags #girlboss #mumpreneur #femalefounder and all sorts of tongue-twisting variations. But recently, it’s also been full of women and men criticising these terms, telling us women who use them, that we shouldn’t. ‘Why do we need to identify ourselves as women, or girls or mums?  Men don’t do it they don’t call themselves boy bosses or menpreneurs or dad founders.  That’s ridiculous!’ Yes, that is ridiculous. But let me give you three reasons why I will continue to call myself a woman founder, and why I think women do need to play the gender card when discussing their business or career. 1. Stereotyping I can’t stop calling myself a woman founder/boss/entrepreneur because the expectation is that founders/bosses/entrepreneurs are men. The idea of men identifying themselves as a boy boss or a menpreneur is so silly.  It’s because they don’t have to.  Women are identifying themselves and calling attention to the fact that they are women in business or in their chosen field as a way to break down stereotypes, to make a point that not all successful people are men. They are also doing it to beat the algorithms and search engines that reinforce this stereotype. If you pop the hashtag entrepreneur into LinkedIn, it will give you about 7 million results and a sea of men’s faces.  If you look for stock images of scientists, athletes, doctors or lawyers, you’ll be met with another wave of men.  I’m not saying women aren’t there, we are.  We are just difficult to spot. It’s a bit like playing a feminist version of “Where’s Waldo.” Which leads me to my next point. 2.Visibility I can’t stop calling myself a woman founder, because successful women are not easy to find. There is a lot of truth to the saying “you need to see it to be it’. In fact, my whole business is built on sharing untold women’s stories – and believe me there are millions.  SheSaw shares these stories to make women role models accessible and to show women what is possible – even if they are being told by society or their culture that it isn’t. If you haven’t faced adversity as a woman in starting a business or following your chosen career path, then that’s great! Tell other women about your success. Normalise it.  Make it easy to find you, and the way to do that is to use specific titles and hashtags that make you easy to find.  Think of them as the high-vis vest of networking and social media.    I want to know when a business is women-owned, for the same reason I want to know if a business is Black-owned. Indigenous owned. Disability-owned. LGBTQIA-owned.  Because as much as I wish the world was fair, it isn’t. This isn’t pity-spending. This is doing a small bit to help level the playing field. To direct funds to businesses that do not have access to the same opportunities as businesses ran by straight, white men. Which leads us on to... Recognition - I can’t stop calling myself a woman founder, because women face more disadvantages and hurdles in business than men. Here’s just a few.  (Keep in mind, that if women are from one or more marginalised groups, they will face additional unique and compounding hurdles). There is no country in the world that does not have a gender pay gap. Iceland is the first to introduce a policy designed to close it. According to Harvard Business Review 2.3% of global VC investment went into women-led start-ups in 2020. Women face more sexual harassment in the workplace – a 2018 Australian Human Rights National Survey found 2 in 5 women reported experiencing this. The majority of primary carers are women. The OECD estimates that women spend an average of 3-6 hours undertaking unpaid care activities. Globally, only 29 percent of senior management roles are filled by women. In the August 2020 Fortune Global list, only 13 women (2.6%) were CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies - all of them were White. Women deserve to be recognised for overcoming these barriers to success in business. More importantly, we shouldn’t feel bad about giving ourselves a pat on the back for it either.  We wear our titles - Woman Founder, Girl Boss, Mumpreneur – as a medal or a gold star for effort. I want to see all women proudly wearing their badge, she has earned it. I will keep calling myself a woman founder because I am one.   I will keep supporting girl-bosses, mumpreneurs, bizqueens, women in STEM, women in sport, women in film...in fact all women-owned businesses and all women slaying in their chosen field. Because I’m bloody proud of all of them. Whatever she chooses to call herself.      

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Now You See Her - Why SheSaw is using technology to increase women's visibility
1 mins read

Now You See Her - Why SheSaw is using technology to increase women's visibility

You’ve probably heard this statistic, - only 4% of statues are dedicated to women. Do you know how many more statues we’d need to make it equitable? We do. Because we’ve spent the last 12 months finding out. And we’ve got a suggestion.      12 months ago, SheSaw was a travel company dedicated to telling women’s stories on small group tours. We wanted our itineraries to include all of the places significant to women, so clients left their trip with a good understanding of the country’s ‘herstory’ and we increased the visibility of women along the way. Through our network of female travel bloggers, guides and historians we uncovered some incredible stories of women hidden in landscapes and cities.  But what we didn’t find, were many examples of public recognition of women  - statues, museums, monuments and plaques. The things tourists like to take a picture of. The landmarks we use to navigate ourselves around unfamiliar cities.  The traditional way some societies show who it thinks is important and represents its greatest achievements. We weren’t surprised though.  As feminists, travellers (pre-Covid) and historians, we knew the statistic that gets circulated, particularly around International Women’s Day. Only 4% of statues globally are dedicated to women.  And we decided to do something about it.  We decided to put women on the map.  A little more about that later.   The statue superheroes. SheSaw certainly isn’t the first to notice the lack of public recognition for women or try to do something about it.  Here are just a few organisations and individuals making sure women get the recognition they deserve: Herstorical Monuments is adding statues of women to Google Maps to make existing statues easier to find.  She has already mapped hundreds! Statues for Equality is running campaigns to encourage communities, businesses and governments to fund new bronze statues of women across the globe.  They have already installed a number of new statues and many more are planned. Put Her Name On It is campaigning for increased recognition of women in public places, and has already been successful in Victoria, Australia.  Malia Knox is a 9 year old responsible for the #FemaleFaces4PublicPlaces campaign.  It has already succeeded in getting the Queensland government to update its framework to ensure diversity is considered when commissioning new statues, pictures or plaques so that more women are represented. In the UK, the Public Statues and Sculptures Association have a database of all statues dedicated to women in the UK and are asking for more submissions. There are numerous campaigns fundraising for statues dedicated to various women.  Two current fundraising efforts are for Emily Williamson Founder of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Virginia Woolf.   The monumental issue. There are many others who didn’t reach their funding goals, so the statues remain unseen. But with bronze statues costing between $50,000 to $250,000, this isn’t too surprising.  If we were to put up the additional 24,000 statues we need to get gender equity across the globe, that would cost somewhere in the region of $3.6billion (AUD). We need more public recognition of women because the absence of women memorialised in bronze suggests they haven’t done enough to deserve such expensive honours.  The lack of place names and plaques suggests there aren’t many women whose name deserves to live on.  And that’s an issue because women have made significant contributions to society in a vast number of ways. We need to see that.  Not just to appreciate their efforts, but to be inspired to go forward and make similar contributions themselves. Visibility is one of the most powerful ways to empower people – when you see it you can be it.   SheSaw a solution. Like all of the incredible people mentioned in this article, SheSaw wants more statues, plaques and placenames to bear women’s names. We need to walk down streets and see more space given to women, especially women from minority groups.  We need that visibility. But, the cost, time and space needed to bring about equity in public recognition across the globe make it unlikely that you will see as many women’s names and faces as men any time soon. And you need fewer statues of men to be commissioned in order to level the playing field.  In Canberra and Sydney, despite this call for more recognition for women and diversity in public art, the two most recent public statues are dedicated to white men. So, we are suggesting that we use technology to create equality.  SheSaw has developed an app that uses AR icons to give women public recognition.  As you walk around, AR icons appear to let you know you are walking in the footsteps of a woman who deserves to be remembered.  And the app will then tell you her story. We feature women history-makers and future-shakers.  We are as much about looking forward as looking back.   Now you see her. And her. And her. And her. And because the cost to commission a SheSaw icon is as low as a bunch of flowers, we can tell the story of many more women.  We can put more than 24,000 statues on our digital map.  We are in fact aiming to put 1 million women on the SheSaw map. It's ambitious, we know. But the truth is, this is still only a fraction of the women's stories that should be told.  We feature women who are not considered well-known enough to be honoured in bronze, but whose stories are as inspiring as any sports star or suffragette.  We can put all women on the map.  Where they belong. Businesses can also use SheSaw to give public recognition to the women in their organisation and encourage a new generation of women to join their industry. By showcasing the diverse projects they are working on and the things they have achieved, other women can see that opportunities are out there for them too. And while we are all about the digital, SheSaw is committed to seeing more physical space given to women and increasing the effectiveness of public recognition. SheSaw's app can be used to help fundraise for a physical statue by raising awareness of the woman’s story and showcasing designs in-situ via AR models. When she is immortalised in bronze, a QR code that links to her SheSaw profile will mean people continue to see her story, as well as her statue.   Let's change how we see the world. Help us give it a woman's perspective. Get in touch to find out how you can help SheSaw give women the recognition they deserve.

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