The Download: The Gender Gap in Tech and How Generation Z Deals with Disinformation

This is today’s issue of the magazine.The Download,our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.

Why can’t technology solve the gender problem?

Despite the huge wealth of the tech sector and the vocal corporate commitment to the rights of women, LGBTQ+ people, and racial minorities, the industry remains largely a world of straight white men.

Much of the burden of changing the system has been placed on women themselves: they are encouraged to learn how to code, specialize in STEM, and become more self-confident. But self-confidence and masculine swagger weren’t enough to overcome structural hurdles, especially for tech workers who are also parents. Even the shift of the pandemic towards remote work has not made workplaces more hospitable for women.

It wasn’t always like that. Programming was once an almost exclusively female profession. Back in 1980, women held 70% of programmer positions in Silicon Valley, but that ratio has completely changed since then. While many factors have contributed to the shift, from the educational process to the tediously insistent fiction of technology as a gender-blind “meritocracy”, none of them fully explains it. What really lies at the heart of the tech gender issue is money. Read the full story.

— Margaret O’Mara

Google explores how different generations deal with misinformation

News: Young people are more likely than older people to think they may have inadvertently shared false or misleading information online, often because of the need to share emotional content quickly. However, they are also more adept at using advanced fact-checking techniques, a new study by Poynter, YouGov and Google has found.

What they found: A third of Gen Z respondents said they side-read (performing multiple searches and cross-referencing their results) all the time or most of the time when checking information—more than twice as many as Boomers.

But but: The study is based on participants reporting their own beliefs and habits, which is a notoriously unreliable method. And the upbeat data on Gen Z’s actual habits contrasts quite sharply with other findings about how people check information online. Read the full story.

— Abby Olheiser

Required Reading

I scoured the internet to find the most hilarious/important/scary/exciting tech stories to date.

1 Amazon wants to start offering teletherapy
The e-commerce giant is rapidly expanding into the healthcare industry. (insider $)
+ And it’s expanding its fingerprint-based payment system to dozens of Whole Foods stores. (Ars Technique)

2 US rejects Starlink’s broadband bid
The FCC said it failed to demonstrate that it can deliver on its promise to bring broadband to rural America. (TechCrunch)
+Who is Starlink really for? (MIT Technology Review)

3 Big Tech wants to build data centers on US battlefields
But the defenders of the Civil War are resisting. (New scientist $)

4 China’s economic crisis is spawning a new wave of tycoons
But they make their fortune from sportswear and skincare products, not technology. (Economist $)

5 Genius Founding Boys Of Silicon Valley Join The Great Retirement
Their money-losing businesses need experienced leadership in difficult times for the industry. (New York Times $)
+ Why did Steve Jobs love his turtleneck so much? (New York Times $)

6 Air conditioning is terrible for the planet
Improved building ventilation and greener units are just a few of the alternatives. (Voice)
+ More air conditioners will be a legacy of Europe’s heat wave. (MIT Technology Review)
+ Big Tech engineers are leaving outdated businesses for climate-focused startups. (Protocol)

7 Social Media Really Wants Online Shopping Streams To Take Off
Live e-commerce is already huge in China, but has been slower in other countries. (FT $)
+ China wants to control how its famous streamers act, talk and even dress. (MIT Technology Review)

8 Taking off and lifting the e-bike ⚡
With rising gas prices, electric bikes are a cheaper alternative to cars. (WSJ $)
+ Lithium, needed for electric vehicle batteries, is now in short supply. (WSJ $)

9 Millennials Get Close To Their Kids Over Pokémon
After 26 years, the franchise is appealing to a mainstream generation. (VP $)
+ Fewer people are playing now than at the height of the pandemic. (Reuters)

10 Job Hunters Paying $1,000 for the Perfect LinkedIn Portrait
In an image-obsessed world, they hope it will give them an edge. (WSJ $)

Quote of the Day

“Cybercriminals ate our lunch.”

Chris Krebs, former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, believes the government does not see the threat of everyday ransomware attacks due to its focus on tracking down sophisticated foreign attackers, Report says. PC Mag.

big story

It is for this reason that Demis Hassabis founded DeepMind.

Demis Hassabis

February 2022

In March 2016, Demis Hassabis, CEO and co-founder of DeepMind, was in Seoul, South Korea, watching his company’s artificial intelligence make history. AlphaGo, a computer program trained to master the ancient board game Go, played a five-game match against Korean professional Lee Sedol and beat him 4-1 in a win that changed the world’s view of what AI is capable of.

But while the DeepMind team was celebrating, Hassabis was already thinking of an even bigger challenge. He realized that his company’s technology was ready to solve one of the most important and difficult problems in biology that researchers have been trying to solve for 50 years: protein structure prediction. Read the full story.

— Will Douglas Haven

We can still have good things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction during these strange times. (Any ideas? Email me or write me.)

+ 8glichorbit digital art is oddly soothing.
+ Miningthe new Predator prequel sounds like it could forgive a few of the franchise’s past horrors.
+ All welcome growth and growth emo lead male.
+ This is interesting: investigators use DNA to fight against illegal loggers.
+ Turtles returning to the Mississippi mainland for the first time in four years.

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