Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates on the “varied” abuse women face online

Laura Bates addresses the audience of A Web for Her | Credit: Keila Guimarães

Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, has been a prominent campaigner for diversity and equality in the technology industry. Because of this, she has also seen her fair share of online abuse.

She was part of a panel discussion at South Bank’s Web We Want Festival, called A Web For Her. It asks a simple question: what would the Web look like if it was run by women?

After the event, we caught up with Laura to ask her why it’s important to have true online equality.

She said that she’s been the victim of a lot of online abuse, and claimed that “abuse is much more varied than people realise.”

It varies from discounting women’s articles, getting abusive comments instead of constructive arguments, and being less likely to be retweeted and followed on Twitter.

“It goes all the way up the spectrum to really serious abuse. A lot of the stuff that I get falls into a middle-ground category, where I don’t think I should report it to the police, but it still completely refuses to see you as a human being”.

Women in communities

With this in mind, I asked Laura why it’s still important that she risks such abuse and threats by going out there on online communities.

The panel discussion focused on the the fact that there’s a lot animosity towards women within within the technology industry, and asked how we can persuade women to challenge and overcome such resistance.

The advantages of women in tech

I asked Laura afterwards what the advantages would be once this has been achieved. As she said in the event, “no matter how anti-feminist you are, you cannot believe that the statistics represent a true indication of where talent lies.”

Advice for women in tech

If you were to give a woman aiming to start a tech-related career or project, what would the one piece of advice be?

Laura’s answer was immediate: network. She urged women to get together with like-minded people to improve the industry towards a more progressive future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *