Asian woman with folded arms standing in front of a brick wall

About WITS

Every woman deserves to have a safe, positive and empowering experience online.

Every woman has the right to live without the fear, threat or experience of cyber abuse.

Women Influencing Tech Spaces uses women’s voices to raise awareness of the insidious impacts of cyber abuse. By drawing upon the stories, skills and strategies of women, WITS gives women the psychological armour to interact online with impact and confidence.

This is your call to action. By supporting each other, women can protect and promote each other’s voices online and together gain strength and solidarity.

#womenwithWITS

The benefits
of social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for women to engage, connect, communicate, learn and grow.

  • Express themselves
  • Empower others
  • Contribute ideas
  • Make connections
  • Engage directly
  • Build personal brand
  • Amplify their voices
  • Access information

It is a medium for women to develop their professional identities, strengthen their personal brands and build their reputations.

Social media can amplify the voices of women who are too often silenced in public debate: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, women who identify as LGBTQI and women with disabilities.

Social media can also unite women’s individual stories and allow them to speak collectively. It can therefore help to both liberate women and advance gender equality. But with these benefits comes risks, including the risk of cyber abuse.

Impacts of Cyber Abuse
#womenwithWITS

Why women?
What are the facts?

Women are more likely to be targets of personal, sexual and gender-based cyber abuse than their male counterparts.

A recent Ipsos MORI poll for Amnesty International shows that 3 in 10 women had experienced online abuse or harassment. Of those women:

41%

Felt their physical safety was threatened.

24%

Felt their family safety was at risk.

48%

Said abuse included racism, sexism, homophobia or transphobia.

27%

Stopped posting content that expressed their opinion on certain issues.

23%

Stopped sharing content that expressed their opinion on certain issues.

Caucasian woman holding a notebook

Targeted
at Women

Cyber abuse targeted at women is more likely to be gender-based.

Rooted in misogyny and reflecting society’s broader gender inequality, women often face harassment, humiliation or objectification, rather than consideration and debate of their ideas online.

Sadly, often the abuse targeted at women is because they are women.

Women in leadership positions and with public personas are especially targeted. Women in politics, business, media, sports and academia experience shockingly high levels of abuse.

1 in 5 journalists have been cyberbullied

A 2016 Women in Media study found that more than one in five journalists have been cyberbullied, with 41% being trolled. 60% of respondents believed harassment was more likely to be directed at women. The experience for some respondents was so extreme that they left the industry. Others changed the way they interacted with their audiences in social media.

Often it is the exact qualities that have led women to be successful in their field - confidence, assertiveness and passion - that provoke a backlash to their voices online.

Attacking a woman personally is often a deliberate tactic to silence her voice.

What must
we do?

Cyber abuse is not a women’s issue; it is a societal issue that disproportionately affects women.

Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children includes a commitment to change Australia’s attitudes to – and tolerance for – this kind of abuse.

While combatting cyber abuse requires a societal response, research shows that women want advice on practical tips and options for dealing with cyber abuse.

Giving women the skills and knowledge on how to better manage cyber abuse will ultimately give them greater control and confidence if they experience the abuse.

#womenwithWITS

Inspiring women

Share how they combat cyber abuse