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How Technology Can Continue To Empower Women

Technology will change the female narrative for the better.

15/05/2017 10:28 AM AEST | Updated 16/05/2017 8:47 AM AEST

For Mother's Day you didn't want 10 minutes' peace, a nice cuppa in bed or to go to the bathroom without someone barging in; what you wanted is technology.

Technology will change the female narrative for the better -- liberating mothers and women from the shackles of household chores so she is able to live in a world where she has time to pursue her own version of happiness. This sounds less like foolish optimism when exploring the emerging technologies of the near future.

For example, online retailer Amazon is coming to Australia this year and whilst it won't close the gender pay gap, it and other technologies will nudge the needle closer to equality for women.

Amazon will enter with a fresh offering, sending chills down the spines of executives at Woolworths and Coles. Amazon makes more revenue than Woolworths and Coles combined. They will have distribution centers in Australia, price checking everything before offering up to a 30 percent discount.

It is the Amazon Echo smart home assistant that is the true game changer. This voice-activated device will free women from spending on average 53 hours a year wandering around the supermarket. Simply say "put chocolates in the shopping cart for Mother's Day" and it's done. That's 53 wasted hours that could soon be returned to you.

How will technology eradicate the 14 hours a week spent on the drudgery of domestic work? The 2016 ABS Census reveals "The 'typical' Australian male is 37 years old, a year younger than the 'typical' female and spends less than five hours a week on domestic work, while the 'typical' female spends between five and 14 hours a week on domestic work".

Mia Freedman in her new book Work Strife Balance reflects the current household pressures.

"No wonder the boundless, manic pursuit of a 'balanced' state makes us feel inadequate and wretched. Work-life balance is like thigh gaps. It's yet another rotten external pressure women are putting on ourselves. Another impossible standard against which we're measuring ourselves and our lives," she writes.

Mark Zuckerberg is handballing some of that strife back to technology. Jarvis is his new artificial intelligent home program. Jarvis completes the basic tasks of the smart home robot, turns the lights off and cooks toast. Best of all, it doesn't talk back. Emerging smart homes will change the Australian domestic narrative in the future.

Whilst we can't remove the guilt of not being able to "have it all" we can improve the path to balance with technology. I am a firm believer that doing mindless chores is not parenting; it's often just flat-out hard labour. Emerging technologies have the power to enable better parenting as they give us back time, taking over the chores.

Aside from alleviating the daily grind, biometric-based technology is helping with our mood and health. Hear and Now by Biobeats is a mindfulness meets the sciences app. It reads biometrics to monitor the users stress levels and triggers and technology that teaches proven stress reduction breathing exercises. A reinvention of the 1970s mood ring, perhaps?

The increase in parenting tech is building in reassurance to the role of parenting. The Owlet has a sensor on a sock that babies wear to monitor temperature and breathing patterns. The vital statistics are then sent to the app to parents in the room next door.

With technology, sex can get back on the agenda via new innovations. Elvie was given out in the Academy Award goodie bag in 2017. It tracks kegel exercises. The device is inserted like a tampon and syncs to the phone.

Technology is critical in moving the needle forward for women because it amplifies our voice. Seventy-four percent of women use social networking sites, compared with 62 percent of men. Fifty percent of 18-to-54-year-olds say that effecting change through digital empowerment will be as relevant as effecting change through voting.

To date, Moore's law has held true. Computing power doubling every two years, coupled with technology decreasing in cost over time, moves us closer to a world where the collective benefit of technology is nudging Australian society towards equality.

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