Women in STEM Book Club – Technically Wrong

In February (2019), the Women in STEM book club had their second gathering to discuss “Technically Wrong” by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. It was great to see some familiar faces of people who had attended the first meeting. The attendance was good with a variety of backgrounds, and the conversation was excellent; we could have kept going for much longer if the lovely bookshop that accommodates us (Lighthouse Bookshop) did not have to close!

As last time, after our intense and interesting discussion, the attendees were asked to star rate the book. Here is the club’s review and rating on February’s book:

Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

4/5 stars

The book is well-structured and easy to read, with its large amount of anecdotal evidence and examples making it accessible even to “not technical” people. There is a clear message deriving from all these stories: that the lack of diversity in tech workforce causes lack of diversity in tech products.

It is also made clear that the tech community is separated from the rest of the world, which needs to change in order to get the best out of technology for everyone. We need to demystify the tech world, and set up better regulations on data privacy and innovation.

It feels like the author has picked a side and she wants the readers to agree with her. It also seems like she is pro-empathy, hoping that empathy would work for the benefit of companies as much as for individuals in the tech world; which however sounds a bit romantic and utopian in a world where people are treated as data points.

Even though the book is full of examples of what the problems are and why they exist, it does not provide enough guidance and specific advice on what needs to be done to change things for the better. Also, it would be very interesting and useful if the book included a bit more about the history of how technology reached this point of extreme lack of diversity.

The book is totally recommended, especially to people who have never thought or have no idea how things work in the tech community and the impact of it on everyone’s life. However, there is a risk of ignorant people freaking out when they find out how their data are managed and used by social media and tech companies!



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