Why is it so important to talk about content at a tech conference? Because, although technology powers our modern society, it is the stories we tell, and content we create, that drives how that technology is applied and what we choose to use tech for.
Think about it: would Instagram or TikTok or Facebook or even OpenAi (especially OpenAi and their large language models (LLMs)) be anything without content, without stories? No.
The stories we don’t tell are just as important as the stories we do. In no arena is the impact of omitting stories (in this case the stories of women) more obvious than in the field of women’s health.
For example, did you know that there are only 400 studies on periods compared to 15’000 studies on semen?
Or that in 2020, only 10.7% of the U.S. government’s basic scientific research funding was allocated to women’s health?
That in the UK, less than 2.5% of publicly funded research focuses on female reproductive health, even though one in three women will face significant reproductive health challenges.
That women are 20-30% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men and often wait an average of 4 years longer for the same diagnosis
That for every 1 woman diagnosed with a women’s health condition, approximately 4 remain undiagnosed?
These are shocking statistics but the point of these statistics is not to shock you, it is to reflect on why that might be – why is there such a discrepancy?
And the answer to that lies in … Stories.
Because stories, whether told or untold, shape our society and mould our understanding of the world. They’re more than narratives; they are the unseen forces that influence our lives and beliefs. And we, historically, have not listened to women when it comes to their health. We have seen women’s health conditions as being uncomfortable or taboo.
When women do dare to speak up, we dismiss them as being hysterical – in fact women with heart disease symptoms are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than men with similar symptoms. And are twice as likely to die following a heart attack as well.
Women are even unseen in the data we collect – in fact, women of childbearing potential were excluded from clinical trials until 1993 in the US.
And unseen in the textbooks clinicians use in school:
In anatomy textbooks only 36% of the anatomical images with an identifiable sex were female.
Too many stories of women’s health remain untold, obscured by cultural norms, taboos, and even algorithms. And This omission skews our societal dialogues and perceptions of ‘normalcy.’ In the UK, an overwhelming 84% of women report feeling unheard by their healthcare providers, a direct result of the invisibility of women’s health issues in mainstream discourse.
Which is why we’re building FemTechGuide – a platform designed to create a foundational database for future innovations in women’s health by centralizing best in class solutions in women’s health to match women to their personalized healthcare solution and close the gender data health gap.
So let us reflect on a profound truth: What we talk about, is what we innovate and solve for. The stories we share don’t just entertain; they shape the frontier of scientific innovation. They ignite our imagination, open us to new perspectives, and profoundly influence our understanding of emerging technologies.
Stories – those we tell and those we leave untold – have the power to reshape our society. They are the unseen forces moulding our perceptions, guiding our technologies, and influencing our collective future. Stories are the tools through which we redefine narratives and drive positive societal change.
In the end, what we all seek is to be seen and heard. This is the essence of what content and stories should achieve. They should be the catalysts that not only inspire how we use technology but also influence the kind of technology we create; to make sure everyone is seen and heard and reflected in the technology we are crafting.
(Excerpt from WebSummit speech by Oriana Kraft)