Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. According to the UN,
“There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures”.
EQUALS is committed to making sure that no one’s gender is a hindrance to accessing and learning skills in tech. However, as we know, women are already underrepresented in the tech industry at all levels, with the disparity between men and women growing even greater the higher ascends.
As the UN points out, indigenous peoples “are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world”. The challenges faced by women in tech are even greater for those who belong to multiple marginalized groups — such as being both female and indigenous and working in or studying tech.
However, these systemic challenges do not mean that there aren’t already indigenous women making their mark in the sector.
Learn what some indigenous women are doing in the world of tech:
1. In The Invisible Minority of the Tech World (2014), Kat Li talks about exclusion of Native Americas in the United States tech industry.
“When I attended the recent Grace Hopper Convention, there were signs for Latinas in tech, Asian women in tech, Turkish women in tech, and Black women in tech. Glaring, to me, (and possibly to me alone) was the omission of a sign for Native women in tech. I was reminded again that Native Americans have no part in the tech world. We lurk at the edges of society and when people see me, they’re not really seeing me, but rather some idea of what I am”.
2. Animikii is “a digital agency that drives social innovation through Indigenous technology” that is headquartered on the land of the Lekwungen (Songhees) Peoples of the Coast Salish Nation in British Columbia.
Read Animikii’s International Women’s Day blog (2019), Indigenous Women in Tech, to learn about “some awesome and talented women you should check out, support, and give props to” for “taking an industry dominated by men and making their mark”.
3. Just 18 Really Awesome Native Folks in STEM (2017): In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Women of Silicon Valley, which “celebrates women and genderqueer folks in tech”, asked Native American techies of all genders to share their stories.
4. In We need more Indigenous Australians in the tech space (2017), techie youth Celeste Carnegie discusses the challenges faced by indigenous Australians in accessing education and jobs in tech.
5. And for something a little different: learn about how In Rural Africa, Tablets Revolutionize the Classroom (2018). The Samburu are an indigenous group in Kenya, located north of Nairobi. Although they typically avoid the trappings of our modern lifestyle, Alexandra E. Petri writes about how Samburu women began accompanying their children to school where they learned skills to help them navigate digital technologies.
About the Author
Doreen Akiyo Yomoah joined the International Telecommunication Union in May, where she leads communications and outreach for the EQUALS Global Partnership. Prior to working at ITU, she spent four years at the United Nations Research Institute a Communications and Research Consultant working on social protection and gender.
Photo by Yi Wu on Unsplash