How could technology help overcome inequality, not increase it?

The year is 2024. Women still face inequality. There has been so much progress, and there is so much still to do: today we see women from Poland to Mexico protesting on issues from abortion rights to violence against women.

From voting to equal pay, women have fought and won huge battles for changes in the last century and beyond. I am truly grateful to all these women. Women are also fighting for greater equality in the tech world, which is unfortunately one of the most unequal sectors.

Only 25% of tech companies in the EU are women, but even fewer hold leadership positions – only 11% of European venture capital funding goes to startups founded by one female founder, and this percent is 2% when the founders are only women. Just 16% of partners in European venture capital firms are women. Yes, these numbers exist, but they are too small.Big tech companies continue to have problems with toxic work cultures and sexual harassment. And the latest revolutions in the world of technology, artificial intelligence, is no different, which reproduces humanity’s problems of misogyny and racism.

However, thanks to the tireless work of many women and their male allies, things are changing. There are many positive examples in Estonia, such as Female Founders Meetup (regular meetings of female founders), Unicorn Squad, which popularizes science and technology among girls, and, for example, various diversity reports that companies must submit and monitor.

At Latitude59, we prioritise these conversations and topics very seriously, putting impact and accountability at the heart of our discussions. Our goal today is to maintain a level where 50% of Latitude59 speakers are women, but hopefully one day we’ll be there where we don’t have to follow quotas, but equal representation is a given. We live in an equal world and everyone has equal opportunities.

Diversity and inclusion are not just tickboxes, but make companies and ecosystems stronger, more vibrant, and more creative.  Right now Europe has a major tech skills shortage, making it even more vital to make the sector more inclusive, to attract the best talent. So we will be sharing the best ideas and success stories, to show how change is possible.

Technology reflects the world we live in, but it also shapes it. So we must make sure that technology is helping us to overcome inequalities, not reinforce them. We have to take this fight seriously.