International Women's Day feels the effects of #TimesUp

This year's celebration, hot on the heels of campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp, was about telling women's stories and speaking up.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET analyzing tech trends while also writing news, reviews and commentaries across mobile, streaming and online culture. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
3 min read

This year's International Women's Day came in the wake of women's marches and campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Social media played a key role in promoting these movements and became an outlet for celebrities, activists and women across all industries to come together and declare that sexual harassment, discrimination and inequality have no place in society.    

That fervor was prevalent today as women on Twitter came together using hashtags like #InternationalWomensDay and #WomensHistoryMonth to highlight the strength, achievements and importance of women and girls. 

UN Women held its "Time is Now" event in observance of International Women's Day. Speakers included actress Reese Witherspoon, a dominant force behind the #TimesUp movement, and playwright and actress Danai Gurira, whose Love Our Girls program advocates for girls' rights, education and gender equality.

Gurira's "Black Panther" co-star Lupita Nyong'o tweeted an epic image of "The Pantherpuff Girls," adding, "We must see, respect & honor the different kinds of strength that women possess."

International Women's Day is also an opportunity to reflect on efforts to boost representation in the tech industry, which has been under fire for its relative lack of women in leadership roles and for paying women less than men in similar jobs. Women also make up an average of just 30 percent of workers in the industry. 

Several companies have responded in recent years by releasing diversity reports and launching initiatives to increase the number of women and people of color they employ. In 2015, Intel invested $300 million to increase diversity, and Facebook began requiring that people from underrepresented backgrounds be considered for all technical and nontechnical job openings. Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have employee resource groups spanning areas including race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Many have incorporated unconscious-bias training. 

Today, HP announced a partnership with Girl Rising, a campaign promoting girls' education, to launch a seven-month challenge in which participants share a personal story using technology. The winners, who will be announced on International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11, will receive micro-grants, HP products and access to mentors.

The company is also launching a partnership called "Stories of Advocacy" with the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program, which trains youth advocates to promote gender equality. HP will be providing technology to help girls advance their platforms.

Telling women's stories

Today also offered an opportunity to rectify past mistakes and to share stories of women who were overlooked. The New York Times published obituaries for 15 women that were never published in their day, including ones for Ida B. Wells and Sylvia Plath. 

Melinda Gates chimed in, praising the long-overdue recognition of these women. She also tweeted about the importance of equality and how it benefits everyone, not just women. 

Stories of women haven't just been overlooked in the obituaries. A mere 17 percent of Wikipedia profiles are of women, according to UNESCO. In an effort to change that, the organization hosted a #WIKI4WOMEN initiative to encourage people to create, improve or translate Wikipedia profiles of women.

Former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gave a shoutout to some of the women and girls who inspire her, including #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani and women from the US Gymnastics team who shined a light on sexual assault in sports.

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner and advocate for female education and equality, tweeted in support of girls and women who are driving the fight for equality.  

Yousafzai even inspired a Starbucks Music playlist for International Women's Day. 

And Ellen DeGeneres reminded us that today is about celebrating how far we've come, and for acknowledging there's still work to be done.

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.