60% of teachers in the UK are women but only 20% of Edtech startups are founded by them.
This figure, offered by Jonathan Page – founder of WonderHub, and one of this edition’s contributors – is one way of framing the representational gap in the educational technology space, and justifying an introductory issue dedicated to exploring the gender gap in the sector.
Page’s piece offers a succinct but incisive assessment of some of the problems that might ensue if this gap isn’t closed. An Economist article from February of this year provides some indication of what happens when technology’s creators aren’t diverse: it notes that face recognition technology – according to Joy Buolamwini of Massachusetts Institute of Technology – was able to identify lighter-skinned faces more accurately than darker-skinned ones.
The potential for technology to encode the biases and myopia of its creators is particularly potent when ed tech is being created, Page implies, because of, he suggests, gendered differences in learning styles and modes of relating to the world. Page’s concern is that ed tech created through the perspectives of one half of the population will be ill-suited to serving all.
He perceives diversity not as a good in and of itself, but of instrumental value as education technology seeks to enhance learning outcomes, and, as a consequence, educational equity. Page’s belief in the instrumental value of diversity and inclusion is also applied to all-male founding teams, where he notes the financial benefits enjoyed by firms that have at least one women on their founding board.
The three women interviewed by Page offer a range of insights and solutions about being a woman in the ed tech world. Melody Land offers advice to female founders, noting that accelerators and incubators dedicated to supporting ed tech products are more likely to feature female colleagues. Leanne Katz shares her experiences – both good and bad – specifically noting the way in which the male-dominated founder environments create lacunae that women have the potential to fill. Finally, Amanda, CEO of Scribeasy, also focuses on the advantages that women founders – especially those who have experienced life inside the classroom – can enjoy.
Jade Le’s contribution goes one step further than reflection. She’s enjoyed success as an investor in the ed tech space, both at Michelson Runway, and as a Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Alumni Scholar. She offers a perspective from one who is a minority according to multiple metrics, but reaches out to our readership and beyond to offer the chance to connect.
We welcome further contributions from all female Reimaginers reading this, to whom we would be delighted to offer a platform.
In other news, we’ve extended our call for applications!
In response to demand from academic faculty now on vacation, one now has until the 31st August to apply for the 2018 Reimagine Education Awards, and three weeks to submit their application to join our judging panel. We look forward to your applications!
Finally: it’s now time to secure your place at this year’s conference! Our Early Bird tickets are now available, and entitle all Reimaginers to $150 off their conference pass. To ensure that you’re part of the Reimagine experience, and to explore the future of innovation with us – reserve your place today!
Never stop innovating!
Guest Editor and Reimagine Education Steering Committee member