Gender Gap in the Developing World

045-1Gender Gap in the Developing World

The article below says that women in the developing world have less access to technology than the men. Why should this concern us? The developing world is far away, their customs often alien and their economic impact small. Besides this is a blog about business ethics. What does this have to do with business?

Because women in these developing countries have less access to technology, their lives are more limited than males. The attitudes and stereotypes that afflict women are more resilient and powerful when women cannot communicate freely. The locks on culture that keep women from full participation are embedded in ignorance. Free communication is a continuous counterpoint to the sterility and stupidity of embedded culture. Further, women without access to the internet, to phones, to all the modern panoply of electronic devices have less access to jobs, to knowledge such as banking and every other economic pursuit. Finally, without the ability to communicate, women are cut off from access to power. Without power, a voice in how we live, we float subject to every whim of those who do decide. For women in a patriarchal societies, that means every male who is not a small child has more say than they do.

Should there be a gender gap in earning and opportunity? It can be argued that this is a natural state of affairs and there is no lack of web sites and organizations willing to take up that challenge. Civilizations that have lasted hundreds of years have limitations on what women can and cannot do. Many are quite successful both economically and culturally. Why rock the boat? Isn’t it true that women are different than men? Doesn’t science tell us that their brains develop differently? Doesn’t political statistics indicate different voting patterns? Are they not generally lacking in muscle content and height?

Yes, those things can be argued. Women are indeed different. But do those differences imply a disparity in ability or for that matter humanity? It seems obvious to me that women are equal in intellect and judgment to males. The fact that many cultures have long histories of demeaning women is not evidence. Slavery, religious persecution, bloody wars are writ into the histories of nations. That something is custom is little sign of righteousness or correctness. Let us argue the gender gap based on evidence, not upon what has been done in the past.

What does the evidence indicate? Research has indicated small differences in certain kinds of intelligence between men and women but we have not and are not likely to be able to separate cultural effects from the data. But aside from these small differences, some favorable to men and some to women, intelligence can be said to be equally distributed. As to judgment, women do not always make the same decisions men would make under the same circumstances. But if women are inferior to men because they make different judgments, how do we decide this? Do not the judgments have to be worse in some measurable sense? If they are just different, does that imply inferiority or simple male insecurity – you don’t decide the way we do, therefore something must be wrong?

What about physical differences? Surely here we have a case for female inferiority. Small and less muscular, females are more vulnerable to abuse and less capable of hard physical work. Ask an ancient Greek and he will tell you that women can’t fight or do hard work. An ancient Roman would say the same thing. But what does modern research on the ancient world show? It shows women worked about forty hours a week in all these different eras; hard work that limited their life spans. When it came to farming they bore the bulk of the labor How about warfare? The Greeks and the Romans have a point. Spears, swords and hand to hand combat are all enhanced by physical strength. However, this was in the distant past. We now have kinetic energy weapons more commonly described as firearms. Ten and twelve years old children can successfully engage and kill the most renowned male physical specimen with an ease bordering on the casual.

After all that, there is one kind of evidence left, the evidence of the senses. My eyes, my ears and all my other perceptions have found no evidence of inferiority. Oh, women can be mystifying, maddening and sometimes just a pain but that is probably more due to my limitations than theirs. I have seen acts of discrimination against women by employers, and I have seen women perform successfully in teaching and law on a daily basis.

If women are indeed equal to men in capability and humanity, the paying them less or treating them cruelly is wrong whether in our country or in a developing nation.

But what does this have to with business ethics?

Business is dependent on the exchange of goods and services. If we limit the activities of one half of the population, do they function more or less successfully economically? Do they rise to their full abilities and produce the same goods that a person able to exercise judgment would produce? If women can’t choose what they make and can’t get education or training, is the society in which they live more or less advantageous from a business perspective? I think we can safely conclude that allowing people to rise to their full abilities is better for business. Societies function better when all participants have equal opportunities because only then can we realize our potential. We have already seen the effects of empowering minorities and the handicapped. How much more can we gain through the full economic participation of women?

What role should business play in the gender gap? Economically, the gender gap is a limitation on successful commercial activity. All other things being equal, a business functioning in a society where women have the same opportunities as men will be more prosperous. There will be more people with more and better job skills and more consumers. Therefore, it is a business problem.

What’s more, under stakeholder analysis, these women can be managers, employees and customers. That’s pretty significant stakeholding.

Women in the developing world have less access to technology. What can be done? Well, there are American businesses on the ground in much of the developing world not to mention foreign aid from this country and others. What’s more, overseas businesses do lobby for their interests in these many nations.

Why don’t we begin by empowering individual women? A business can give out cell phones as part of a benefits package to employees. A business can teach women how to use technology as part of their training. Next, we deal with the infrastructure itself. Under which circumstances do corporations and business function best? Do they do better with a full communications infrastructure or in its absence? It’s in the interest of every overseas business to have an infrastructure that makes using technology easier. That can be done by lobbying these nations’ governments, by active investment, and by contractual participation in building that communication network.

Business ethics does not always demand sacrifice, and business can be a force for good. Let us remember these lines from Humphrey Bogart in the movie, Sabrina.

Linus Larrabee: A new product has been found, something of use to the world, so a new industry moves into an undeveloped area. Factories go up, machines are brought in, a harbor is dug, and you’re in business. It’s purely coincidental of course that people who never saw a dime before suddenly have a dollar, and barefooted kids wear shoes and have their teeth fixed and their faces washed. What’s wrong with the kind of an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds and, uh, movies on a Saturday night?

There is nothing wrong with that urge. There is nothing with wrong with actually making a product. There is nothing wrong with building a better and stronger world.

And one of our opportunities is to help people realize what is possible, what can be done.

If women are just pack animals with wombs, then all of this is pointless but if women have the same basic humanity as males, then all of us have an obligation to treat them fairly. Businesses carry that duty as well.

James Pilant

How technology widens the gender gap | The Great Debate

The Internet and mobile phones have transformed our connections to people around the world. This technology has also, however, led to a widening gender gap in poorer countries. For it is largely men who control the information revolution that helps to educate, inform and empower.

In low and middle-income countries, a woman is 21 percent less likely than a man to own a mobile phone, according to research done by GSMA. In Africa, women are 23 percent less likely than a man to own a cell phone. In the Middle East the figure is 24 percent and in South Asia, 37 percent,

The factors driving women’s lack of connectivity vary from community to community. But the end result is always the same: disempowerment.

Women are not just missing out on educational and economic opportunities because they don’t own mobile phones. They are losing a voice.

via How technology widens the gender gap | The Great Debate.

Woods, C. (2014, March 21). How technology widens the gender gap. Reuters, U.S. Edition, Retrieved from

From around the web

From the web site, P.A.P. – Blog // Human Rights, etc.

The idea behind the concept of the feminization of poverty is that high poverty rates among women are caused by discriminatory policies, practices and opinions (such as labor market restrictions, lower wages for women, lack of equal education opportunities, substandard healthcare for women etc.).

There are many different systems that try to measure and aggregate all these forms and manifestations of gender inequality and to rank countries accordingly. There’s the Gender-Related Development Index (or G.D.I.), for example. It takes as its starting point the famous Human Development Index based on life expectancy at birth, enrollment in schools, adult literacy and per capita gross domestic product.

There’s also the Gender Empowerment Measure (G.E.M.), which focuses more narrowly on relative levels of political participation and decision-making power, economic participation and earnings.

And then there’s the Gender Equity Index (G.E.I.) that combines elements similar to both the G.D.I. and the G.E.M. It measures education gaps between men and women (such as literacy gaps and gaps in enrollment rates), differences in participation in the economy (workforce participation, income gaps), and empowerment issues (number of women in government etc.).

Finally, the World Economic Forum publishes a Gender Gap Index (G.G.I.) that combines quantitative measures with some qualitative measures based on a survey of 9,000 business leaders in 104 countries. This “Global Gender Gap Index”, like the other measures, rankscountries according to the level of gender-inequality existing in those countries. It is based on 14 indicators covering political representation, access to education, health and economic participation.

Spagnoli, F. (2011, November 20). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

The “BlackBerry Riots” — What Should RIM Do? (via The Business Ethics Blog)

We have learned that Chris MacDonald quickly analyzes current events for ethical issues and can be counted on to get a post up in a day or less. This is one of those.

Chris MacDonald

My favorite paragraph is this one –

The question is complicated by questions of precedence. Tech companies have come under fire for assisting governments in, for example, China, to crack down on dissidents. Of course, the UK government isn’t anything like China’s repressive regime. But at least some people are pointing to underlying social unrest, unemployment etc., in the UK as part of the reason — if not justification — for the riots. And besides, even if it’s clear that the UK riots are unjustifiable and that the UK government is a decent one, companies like RIM are global companies, engaged in a whole spectrum of social and political settings, ones that will stubbornly refuse to be categorized. Should a tech company help a repressive regime stifle peaceful protest? No. Should a tech company help a good and just government fight crime? Yes. But with regard to governments, as with regard to social unrest, there’s much more grey in the world than black and white.

We’re going to come across this issue again and again. Modern social unrest, justified, unjustified or simply beyond our understanding, is now also a product of social networking. As these machines gain complexity and power, so will the possibilities of social action. We are entering a new world in which a protest or similar action can be organized in very short chunks of times. Flyers and bullhorns are as obsolete as Egyptian hieroglyphs in this new climate of computer assisted unrest.

James Pilant

The intersection of social media with social unrest is a massive topic these days. Twitter has been credited with playing an important role in coordinating the pro-democracy protests in Egypt, and Facebook played a role in helping police track down culprits after the Vancouver hockey riots. But the mostly-unstated truth behind these “technologies of the people” is that they are corporate technologies, ones developed, fostered, and controlled by c … Read More

via The Business Ethics Blog

House panel approves bill forcing ISPs to log users’ web history (via THE INTERNET POST)

Yes, it’s all true. I went and checked to make sure there was no exaggeration here because this is so scary. Well, there it is, a congressional attempt to clobber all privacy on the internet and create huge databases of personal information that can be used against American citizens.

James Pialnt

House panel approves bill forcing ISPs to log users’ web history This has actually precious little to do with finding pedophiles, and everything to do with spying on everyone using the net. Lawmakers are about to push the American people under a bus with this legislation, and into the dark abyss of Code Napoleon Law, where everyone was considered guilty until proven innocent. First and 4th Amendment to the Constitution, rest … Read More


Japan Passes Law To Cleanse Internet Of ‘Bad’ Fukushima Radiation News (via THE INTERNET POST)

Predictable, I wonder why it took so long. As radiation is detected in larger and large amounts further and further away from the damaged nuclear plants, I guess things just started to get annoying. So, we’re just going to give all those nasty news agencies a good talking to!

James Pilant

Japan Passes Law To Cleanse Internet Of 'Bad' Fukushima Radiation News 'The supposedly free democratic nation of Japan, which supposedly values and promotes freedom of speech, has officially issued orders to telecommunication companies and webmasters to remove content from websites that counter the official government position that the disaster is over and there is no more threat from the radiation. The government charges that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresp … Read More


The Biggest Offshoring Myth (via John Akerson’s Thoughts)

I believe the key paragraph here is this one (from the article).

I think Offshoring fails because offshored processes, deliverables and costs are almost never measured objectively. I think Offshoring fails because offshoring projects define success as “the expansion of offshoring” rather than as the “delivery of improved services, products, projects, or results for the same or less cost.” I think offshoring fails because the jobs lost to offshoring result in incredible losses for our country, our future, our tax base, and for things that are much harder to quantify.

I couldn’t have said it better.                                     James Pilant

The Biggest Offshoring Myth Eweek has an interesting article – “Outsourcing Myths have no Grounds, Says Deloitte CIO” Deloitte’s CIO does his best to debunk various offshoring myths.  The first myth that he debunks is that “Offshoring… has not been successful.”  his response is: “That’s absolutely not true,” Quinlan said. “We’re seeing significant upticking in global offshoring activity.” With the maturation of the offshoring market, there has been an accompanying decreas … Read More

via John Akerson’s Thoughts

Hydrogen Production and Sosei Advantage (via Water Team)

I loved this article. It was not only informative but it took some fairly difficult science and made it seem simple.

Of course, I have the secondary motive of contributing to a better energy future. This is one of many kinds of technology that are inevitable in a world where fossil fuel is becoming more expensive and harder to get.

I have read a number of the posts from this site. Many of them are about water and water supplies. This is a site for any one interested in the field. I liked it.

James Pilant

Hydrogen Production and Sosei Advantage   Image via Wikipedia Today, there are  numerous efforts to produce  hydrogen gas for environmentally friendly energy applications which either require expensive reactants, reagents, catalysts or other energy sources.  Some emit other harmful gases or  result in other undesirable consequences from extended, extensive use.  Here is a video which offers clear insight into why Dr. Fukai’s Sosei Water is in a keystone position to connect society … Read More

via Water Team

Net Neutrality: Who Should We Be Most Afraid Of? (via Rebecca Reynolds)

Excellent article on net neutrality. Thoughtful and intelligent. We need more like it.

She asks the important questions. What values are at stake here? What are our choices? But she ties all this in with some history of the developing media of the last fifty years.

Good writing. Please go and have a look.

James Pilant

Net Neutrality: Who Should We Be Most Afraid Of? The idea of open, accessible, unmoderated forums for discourse and exchange inspires me. Afterall, that is what I do for a living: I design processes that enable many people to engage in collaborative decision-making. That technology could push this process open even further, to many more people, to a borderless conversation, a churning think tank for innovation is a possibility I dream of. For this reason, I have been an increasing proponent of … Read More

via Rebecca Reynolds

Response to Rep. Marsha Blackburn: A True Conservative Tech Policy (via The Prelator)

This article is concerned with net neutrality. A good part of the article focuses on this issue. But the article takes on some other critical issues. One is Congress’ bizarre lengthening of the copyright privilege to seventy years plus the life of the author. It’s tragic in literature but in the tech world it ties up technology is a disastrous fashion. He also discusses new laws under consideration that would make suppliers of net access vulnerable to legal action over the content of their various customers. This would provoke massive censorship of the web not because there is illegality but to avoid the slightest possibility of illegality.

It’s a good article and his conclusions are very close to my own. I wish the author well.

James Pilant

On January 18, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn gave a speech purporting to give a conservative view of technology policy. As a strong conservative myself, I was deeply saddened to read this speech, which not only displays a deep lack of understanding about important policy issues facing the tech world, but a misunderstanding of the true tenants of conservatism in favor of the very corporate cronyism which Republicans are all too often accused of. … Read More

via The Prelator

Will New Technology Fix The TSA Scandal?

What if you could walk through that airport body scanner, pause for the camera, and know that your naked image would never be pored over by human eyes? If it was software, not TSA screeners, who searched you and other passengers for possible explosives?

That’s the vision of Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole. At a Senate hearing yesterday, Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson conjured this future and suggested to Pisole, “It looks like technology can be a solution to the privacy issue.” Pistole responded, “I think so, I’m very hopeful in that regard.”

The lead two paragraphs from an Atlantic Monthly story written by Alexis Madrigal. Mr. Madrigal them goes on to explain why this is probably never going to happen.

From the article

While vendors like L-3 and Rapiscan are actively trying to come up with a magic technological solution for the TSA, independent experts on body scanning technology and automated threat detection aren’t nearly as optimistic as the TSA head. Setting aside the question of how much real safety would be afforded by body scanners that use algorithms to detect artfully hidden explosives under someone’s clothes (I’ll leave it to our big guns to debate that point), there are fundamental problems that may make it very difficult to deploy them.

This is an excellent description of how the technology used in scanning works. I heartily recommend it.

There is no magic bullet.

Currently our actions are terrorist driven. Have one terrorist hide an explosive near his genitals and suddenly millions of Americans are having the genitals groped by the unfriendly hand of the government.

Tell me, what are we going to do if a terrorist hides the explosive more internally? Do you really want to meet your friendly TSA employee while he’s putting on the rubber gloves?

Let’s stop the nonsense now.

James Pilant

A New Model?

EniacA New Model?

The impact of the new technologies, even something as ubiquitous as e-mail have only begun to be felt in many parts of society. For instance, take shareholder voting. Usually, this ratifies selection of the board of directors and takes place once a year. This is a reflection of the difficulty of getting all the shareholders together to vote or was. Really, it’s obsolete. Shareholders should be empowered by the new technologies and there should be multiple votes each year. For instance, the extravagant pay and benefits offered CEO’s and other officers of the company might require ratification by the shareholders instead of being chosen by a board of compensation often appointed by the CEO himself.

What about government? How many places could the government in this country empower citizens to make a difference in the decision making. Right now, floods of e-mails are fired in whenever a major issue appears. But we can do better. I believe right now we have the technology to eliminate fake e-mails and other nonsense from the process. If one of my websites can screen out spam and confirm my identity so I can download modifications to my video games, surely a congressional office can do the same. I don’t think they want to do this. Floods of e-mail enable a representative to vote anyway they like. Accurate e-mails reflecting the actual views of the citizens, particularly the most energized and interest citizens would likely reflect real public concerns and handicap a representative freedom to do any act they wish for any constituency for instance a corporation having made large campaign contributions.

We don’t think about these things. We act as if the world were connected by horse drawn vehicles from another age when people communicate with every part of the world in tenths of a second. Let’s start thinking and start building a society where people matter.

James Pilant