This post has been updated.
It’s that time of year — time to mine the events of the past to formulate future trends.
Digital strategy agency Webbmedia Group released its annual trends report Thursday, coincidentally less than a week after Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner Mary Meeker released an update to her annual tech trends report. The Webbmedia report highlights the company’s assessment of the technology trends for 2013 in publishing, consumer technology and tech culture, among other areas.
One of the more notable Webbmedia trends relates to women. The authors found that content online failed to address the needs of “a cadre of smart, creative women” both inside and outside the tech world. The slide (number 28) refers to Marissa Mayer’s move from Google to the CEO spot at Yahoo, the sexual harassment suit by partner Ellen Pao, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” reference during the presidential debates.
“This group is being underserved in terms of content,” the report reads. “In 2013, we expect to see more women receiving funding, speaking at conferences, being interviewed by mainstream media and getting recognition for their many contributions in tech and beyond.” The result: new channels of content and higher-quality offerings for this increasingly powerful and visible group of consumers.
But what about men?
I'd like to say that in 2013, our society will shift such that men and women will find truly equal pay in the workplace, women will land more corporate board seats (by default meaning fewer for men), women will command higher positions within companies and we’ll stop seeing photos on Instagram of all-male staff luncheons.
The fact is that while women are – rightfully – becoming more vocal and visible thanks to digital media, I don't expect radical change overnight. But that change is coming, and next year will be as good a time as any to start preparing. Men should open their minds, their office doors, their conference rosters, their boardrooms and their late-night meetings over cocktails to smart women whose voices will help, rather than distract, their organizations. There are listservs, meetups and little networks all over the country that spring into immediate action when women have been rebuffed, excluded or harassed. This past year has shown that it's much better to practice inclusivity first, than to deal with the vast digitally-connected ranks after.
This year, the more popular content for and about women, at least online, seems to have centered around the oft-focused-on topics of work-life balance and reproduction, with Anne Marie Slaughter’s incredibly popular piece for The Atlantic and the premier of Lena Dunham’s “Girls” serving as two of the more popular examples. Meanwhile, talk of rape as “legitimate” and a pregnancy resulting from rape as “something God intended to happen” doomed the candidacies of Republicans Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Moudock in Indiana.
If Webb and her team are right, and it’s not that far of a stretch given that the volume of professional women is perpetually growing, this could be the year when communities, publications for and stories about professional women blossom. Perhaps now is finally the time for publications that focus more on individual accomplishments, executive career development and funding rounds — where coverage of IP and contracts vies with that of IUDs and contraception.
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