Oct 02, 2020
Interviews & Inspiration | Rhiannon Wardle
As we sit and watch the world grapple with the climate crisis, social justice issues and presidential campaigns, we may notice that one industry is only continuing to thrive: technology. The tech industry is constantly evolving and growing to keep up with life’s increasing demands, and to offer something new into our lives that we didn’t even know we needed. It’s no revelation to state that white men take up a lot of space in tech - but Femtech challenges the hierarchy, and falls somewhere outside of our typical understanding of the industry. So what is Femtech, and should we get behind it?
Essentially, the term encapsulates any technology specifically aimed at women. This may include period trackers, breast pumps, pelvic floor exercisers and smart sex toys. However, many women have taken issue with this distinction, claiming that the term Femtech is “cringey” or out of touch.
But does this attitude merely confirm that we as a society are uncomfortable with things that are considered ‘feminine’ because women’s issues aren’t taken as seriously as men’s? Women are much more likely than men to get misdiagnosed with mental health problems even when clinical results show their pain is real. Perhaps Femtech is leading the way for women by destigmatising their long-ignored health issues. Alternatively, is the term “Femtech” controversial because it perpetuates the idea that women’s tech is separate and therefore can’t exist within regular tech industries?
On a positive note, by giving women more control over their bodies and health, Femtech is placing the power and responsibility back into our own hands. This is partly because we have an increased scientific understanding of our bodies - take period trackers, for instance. Our periods are notoriously a confusing and frustrating time, and fluctuating hormone levels can affect our moods and bodies in a number of ways. Period trackers help to explain some of the changes we experience and inform us of exactly what’s going on inside our bodies.
Some women worry that male investors may be reluctant to invest in something called Femtech; men may feel alienated or dismiss it as being outside of their field of knowledge. Preferably, as Femtech booms, male investors could be forced to take women’s issues and tech solutions more seriously. If there is a large market for Femtech, then investors will be forced to sit up and listen. Moreover, Femtech may help men understand and empathise more with women’s issues. That couldn’t hurt.
One undeniable issue with the term Femtech is the question of inclusivity. We’re a society of labelling, but not everyone fits within traditional gender roles and identities, nor should they have to. Everyone should have the freedom to identify how they want without negative repercussions. This begs the question - is “Femtech” too binary, when not all women feel feminine and not all people who use Femtech identify as women? It’s certainly a worthy criticism, but perhaps the positives outweigh the negatives in a world where half of the population’s needs have been disregarded for so long. It’s time that women demand the attention and resources we’ve always needed.
Not heard of Femtech before? Below we’ve compiled a small list of exciting Femtech companies that you might want to pay attention to.
Stating themselves as “the world's first review platform for contraceptives”, The Lowdown seeks to change the way that women choose and access contraception. Seeing as contraception almost always falls down to women, it is vital that we understand how different contraceptive methods may affect us - because they often have so many detrimental effects. Everyone is different when it comes to what works for them, but at least on The Lowdown, women can read specific and detailed reviews about other women’s experiences. This way, the daunting world of contraception is made a little less anxiety-inducing.
Described as an intimate self-care app for women, Emjoy provides audio sessions and stories that put women’s self-care at the forefront. Women can customise their journeys, begin to understand their desire, create daily routines and access scientifically approved information.
Apricity was created to challenge the traditional fertility treatment experience. Users are able to explore their options by talking to an Apricity advisor, organise online consultations, and receive a bespoke treatment plan which they can access using the companion app. While fertility treatment itself is done in person, Apricity makes use of technology to provide additional information and services to women.
One of the most well known examples of Femtech, Clue is a period tracker app that uses scientific data to provide information about periods, PMS and fertility. With Clue, users are able to track their moods and symptoms on a calendar and retrieve frequent analysis reports. Want to know how your period affects your skin, hair or sleep? Clue is the app for you.
Coroflo have created a revolutionary device for breastfeeding mothers. The Coro Breastfeeding Monitor is able to sense how much milk is flowing through the nipple shield without use of wires or chargers. Users are able to connect the monitor to Coroflo’s app and track how much milk is flowing from each breast. Mothers will also be able to track feed durations and volume, meaning that breastfeeding becomes less about guesswork and more about facts!
For more information about Femtech, why not check out Femtech Insider? Afterall, knowledge is power, and we deserve to have power and autonomy over our bodies and minds.