In the Digital Age, the internet has been popularised and well-developed with the rapid growth of technology and innovation. As the centre of communication, the internet promotes producing and spreading the digitalised information (Castells, 2014). The continuous development of digitalisation has successfully driven the formation of informatisation and the global economy (Kravchenko et al., 2019). The social characteristics in the internet era are gradually formed by the constant interaction between society and individuals under the influence of internet technology. Nevertheless, structural biases and inequalities that emerged in the 1960s extended influentially to the contemporary digital society (Lusoli & Turner, 2020). With the development of the internet, some problems of it have been exposed. The lack of diversity has impacted the internet’s development, including racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity, harming societies and individuals.
The Lack of Gender Diversity
Adequate gender diversity as a fair representation of people of different genders often occurs in the labour market, illustrating the similar hire rate between males and females and equal payments. However, as the global technological representative, Silicon Valley has been deeply influenced by the bro culture, and its personnel composition of primarily male and white scientists already contains many inequalities (Lusoli & Turner, 2020).
Meanwhile, the adverse influences left over by history continue to impact the situation today. In Australia, the number of women participating in STEM courses increased by 24% between 2015 and 2020 (Harvey-Smith, 2022). Nevertheless, only 23% of senior executives and 8% of CEOs in STEM industries are women, and on average, women in this industry are paid 18% less than men (Harvey-Smith, 2022). In the workplace of technology companies, the lack of women leads to the lack of diversified working methods that fail to take into account the experience of female users on the internet and the inability to change the inherent bias of algorithms. Platforms with algorithmic bias display unequal distribution of information and resources to females, which includes recruitment and advertising systems that do not prioritise female applicants (Smith & Rustagi, 2021). Therefore, creating and maintaining a culture that emphasises inclusion and diversity in internet companies is necessary to promote the possibilities of further development of the internet (Maynard, 2021).
Because of Google’s status as a giant among technology companies, most of the public uses it as their frequently used search engine. Whereas the algorithmic patterns it uses are inherently sexist, causing consistent harm to the disadvantaged group of people. When people search for CEOs on Google, the image results presented are significantly dominated by men and insufficient results for women, with the results impacting or shifting public perceptions. The algorithms of Google prioritise considering the ways to attract marketers and rich white people through relevant search results (TEDx Talks, 2014). The illustration of gender inequality happens in the algorithm bias lead to a subtle effect on the status quo of gender inequality, which can be reflected in women’s employment, education, social status, and economic situation. The recurrence of bias transformation between the internet, society and users is demonstrated (Vlasceanu & Amodio, 2022).
The Lack of Racial Diversity
The lack of racial diversity is also reflected in internet use. Different races can be easily detected by the difference in people’s skin colour. Due to historic legacy and other reasons, blacks are more likely to be treated unequally in education and employment than whites. Therefore, blacks earn less than whites on average in the United States, which generally affects their socioeconomic status. People in economic poverty are not able to use advanced mobiles, limiting the way to receive online information. It tends to disconnect them from the society and community they live in, which is a severe representation of the digital divide (Ucar et al., 2021). Like disparity in economics, the digital divide has become more prominent than before rather than more minor.
For instance, broadband is the most important thing to help structure a stable and high-speed internet. Because of the vast income difference between people who are black and those who are white, blacks lack broadband subscriptions almost twice as much as whites (Marshall & Ruane, 2021). Most black families, especially in remote regions, cannot afford a network’s basic costs and it is even more impossible to provide smart devices. Long periods of severe information deficits and gaps have created more inequality for people of the black race. Their children’s future education and employment will be affected. In today’s digital age, the incomplete reception of technical information is challenging for children to integrate into the new society, which will most likely contribute to the continuation of inequalities in the next generation.
However, with the long-term penetration of web 2.0 and online media into our daily lives, coupled with the covid-19 sweeping the globe in recent years, disadvantaged and below-average economic communities and families have been clearly exposed to the lack of digital devices and corresponding education. Simultaneously, the continued growth of the internet is being affected by a lack of diversity. Based on official data, it is known that in Australia, households in large cities are more likely to access the internet than those in remote areas (Harris et al., 2017), and internet availability is linked to factors of socioeconomic status prevalent in the community, including parental work, educational attainment, and so forth.
According to the current circumstance, it is necessary to prepare relevant measures to diminish the digital divide gap among different populations. Increased internet access will provide minorities with substantial remote medical assistance, finance, and other benefits. For instance, the Chicago government invested $50 million in 2020 to provide free high-speed internet for four years to more than 100,000 families of students most in need. The sudden pandemic that year made the public realise the importance of the internet to life. Combined with the situation of some low-income families, the government and welfare agencies need to implement methods to improve the network infrastructure in the local community.
The original purpose of creating the internet was to provide a platform for people around the world to communicate with others and accelerate human development. The increase in interactions caused by the internet shapes people’s ideas and behaviours as well as forms the social structure of the internet era. However, the development of the internet lacks diversity to a certain extent and sustains being affected by structural inequality, negatively affecting society and individuals. The internet has been shrouded in antiquated bro culture and commercial monopoly conditions. In addition, the characteristics and drawbacks of lack of diversity are infinitely magnified because of the internet’s rapid development in contemporary society, creating several digital divides among multiple groups of people and society (Ucar et al., 2021). The lack of gender diversity affects the algorithms of the internet, exacerbating the unfair treatment of different genders and gender stereotyping in society (Smith & Rustagi, 2021); The lack of racial diversity enlarges the gap in people’s socioeconomic status and expands the ability deviation of receiving internet information. Hence, the internet should collaborate with government agencies to make diversity more inclusive on the internet and fundamentally improve people’s worldviews.
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