'Feminism 2.0' – student leaders weigh in on technology’s impact on feminism


Computer Science sophomore Li Cai studies in the Gates Computer Science Complex on Friday. Although it is uncommon for many women to be in the computer science program, the availability of mass communication because of technology has positively impacted the spread of feminist ideologies, making it possible for more women to leave their mark on today's tech industry.

Photo Credit: Jarrid Denman | Daily Texan Staff

Technological fields of study have notoriously been dominated by men, but the ability to connect through technology gives way to a potential era of feminist empowerment.

According to Nada Ismail, computer science junior and president of Women in Computer Science, only 13 percent of computer science graduates are female. Ismail said she’d like to see women pursue careers in the technological fields to develop products appealing to their own gender.

“History has shown that men have been the innovators, and, for most of the developers to be male, that means that a lot of our target audience is going to be missed,” Ismail said. 

Business Consultant Carla Franklin spoke at South By Southwest in Austin last month about the benefits and hindrances technology has posed for women and the feminist movement, introducing her coined “Feminism 2.0” approach.

“Feminism 2.0 is essentially the evolution of feminism now that we have digital and online tools to foster empowerment,” Franklin said.

Franklin said technology has helped women by serving as an information highway of sorts — giving victims of rape, cyberbullying and other predatory cases the opportunity to use the Internet as a form of release and protection as opposed to a negative forum. Furthermore, Franklin said she believes the intimidation women feel when pursuing careers in technology is misplaced, as their natural inclinations reflect skill sets needed in the market.

“You want someone detail-oriented and great at multitasking?” Franklin said. “Pick a woman.”

According to Ismail, our society is in the midst of a technological revolution — one that women should take advantage of.

“Computer science provides women with tools to use their intuitiveness to benefit society, as well as providing access to the workforce and booming industry,” Ismail said.

Feminism’s growth through technology can only be seen in a positive trajectory, according to Elynn Lee, computer science senior and president of the Turing Scholars Student Association. Lee said, overall, technological advances can be thanked for a new sense of unity among women — making ideas, news and awareness available on virtually every device in the world.

Lee said she thinks being able to see other women go through the successes and failures of life serves as a powerful way to promote female solidarity.

“In the past, women would stay at home, but, with technology, women can still learn and grow at home with online classes,” Lee said. “It’s nice to know you’re not really alone with anything you’re doing.”