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Tech firms should be trying to please women - Microsoft researcher

Men design for other men, he argues – like the vibrate setting on a phone.

Image: woman tech image via Shutterstock

LATELY, MICROSOFT RESEARCH fellow, Blaise Aguera y Arcas has been studying the future of tech.

One surprising prediction he makes: women will be a bigger market for tech than men within the next few years.

So he said when speaking at a Microsoft event in Tel Aviv, Israel. Distinguished engineer Aguera y Arcas is the architect of Bing Maps and Bing Mobile best known for creating photo search tool Seadragon Software, bought by Microsoft in 2006. He’s also known for his popular Ted Talk on 3D photo modelling software Photosynth.

Even though women make less money than men today, more women are graduating college. This is causing their incomes to rise faster then men’s. So by 2020, women could (and should) have bigger salaries and more disposal income.

“I’ve heard some nonsense that college isn’t worth anything and it’s better to just found a startup,” he said, referring to the long list of tech founders (including Bill Gates) that never finished college. “That’s rubbish as far as I can see. All the data shows college earns you way more money over your career,” he says, about $20,000 per year for every year of college.

“Designing it like they’ll be selling it to other men”

It’s up to the tech world to be building products to make women want to spend more of their money on tech. Yet, very few women are entering engineering, so men today are still designing most of the world’s tech and they’re often designing it like they’ll be selling it to other men.

For example, a mobile app today might vibrate as an alert. It assumes the user is carrying the phone in his pocket like most men do. But most women keep their smartphones in their purses because they often don’t have pockets. And that’s just one woman-specific design issue.

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The solution? “If you can, hire women engineers and CEOs,” he advises. Barring that, every tech designer should find a way to get feedback from women, such as using “ethnography” analytics tools.

(Disclosure: Microsoft paid some of the travel expenses for Business Insider to attend this event.)

- Julie Bort

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Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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