#IWD2023: Co-ops and the transformative power of technology

'I think all women working in an inherently male industry are heroes'

The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023 (IWD 2023) is, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. We hear from Kate England-Moore, Senior PHP Developer at digital co-operative Co-op Web about the transformative power of technology.

How do you think transformative technology and digital education can empower women and girls? 

The skills gap in education has the potential to put women and girls on the back-foot from a young age, limiting their prospects in a job market (and indeed a world) where technology and STEM are leading the pack. By making technology more accessible and appealing to all and encouraging more girls to pursue STEM subjects in education we narrow that skills gap, and, in turn, make technology more accessible by reducing possible inherent gender-bias within digital systems and services. Involving girls in technology can only have a positive and empowering effect on women in general as it will improve all of the systems we interact with on a daily basis.

How can co-operatives, in particular, help achieve this?

The co-operative principles are great at promoting gender equality as standard. For example, Voluntary and Open Membership encourages the diversification the people we hire within co-operatives, hopefully leading to a more well-balanced and representative membership and therefore a more eclectic mix of projects taken on; Democratic Member Control means that it is generally more likely for a woman to become an elected representative within a co-operative than other business structures, and Concern for Community allows co-operatives to work with their local communities to offer encouragement, mentoring and other opportunities to women and girls otherwise unavailable to them.

What is Co-op Web doing in this area? 

We are actively working on our hiring process with the aim to eliminate as much bias as possible from this process. I myself am on our board of directors and make it my mission to lead the charge on gender equality within Co-operative Web, highlighting areas we can improve on and working with the membership to achieve this, as well as changing company policies to better reflect the needs of women in the workplace.

Is there a woman working in digital who has inspired you / is your hero?

I think that all women working in an inherently male industry are heroes. Whether they are making technological breakthroughs daily or slowly working to eliminate gender bias within existing systems and processes, we are all empowering each other constantly.

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