What do you think of when you think of a ‘Women Only’ VPN? Perhaps a custom pink desktop client, a mobile app wearing a skirt or even a puff of glitter sprayed across your display as you connect… well who knows.
VPN provider KeepSafe decided to launch a campaign dedicated to “VPN for Women” and it hasn’t gone down quite as well as they thought.
In fact, it’s gone down about as well as a teetotaller on a stag night. Alphr writer Victoria Woollaston was especially affronted by this piece and it seems there’s plenty of support behind her.
VPN for Women
The offending blog post from KeepSafe opened with “Ladies, for far too long VPNs have been the domain of techie men” and followed up with “Today, we break it down for you”.
Now I’m not a female but I can only imagine and with the post from Woollaston it’s clear that phrases like those don’t sit well with the female population and it’s understandable.
In a world fighting for equality, especially in the western world, it’s a huge mistake to assume one gender is superior at something than another. The blog post is clearly attempting to separate men from women in VPN use when in fact there is likely already a large portion of women who clearly know how to use a VPN and indeed how one works.
The story has certainly hit a nerve and with Woollaston’s article gaining traction, others have been taking to Twitter to raise the issue.
KeepSafe rights its wrongs… sort of
KeepSafe is definitely aware of the situation, in fact, Woollaston who wrote the original complaint contacted them for comment, coupled with the selection of tweets which are being fired their way by angry females.
In answer, they’ve correct their wrongdoings. Albeit in a covert way.
The article has now been altered to remove any reference to gender and is now aimed at all beginners to VPN usage.
This isn’t quite enough to answer their critics though because although Woollaston has updated her original article to reflect this change she still hasn’t received an answer to why it happened in the first place. Nor have commentators on Twitter who have taken up the cause.
There isn’t enough face to palm with this slip up.
Eagle-eyed viewers of the female persuasion quickly noticed that although the article was updated, the URL is the original which still contains the offending gender based title. Oh dear KeepSafe.
Ill-conceived good deed
It’s quite clear that there was no malice intended in the original KeepSafe publication. In fact they were probably in their mind trying to make the use of VPN services as inclusive as possible.
Unfortunately they did this in the wrong way and have now generated more bad publicity for what is nothing more than an ill thought out marketing tactic.
The blog post in question was published back in November 2017 so it’s also possible that no women were offended in the interim, or it just hadn’t come to the attention of any.
But there are good points to be taken from the original KeepSafe article. Although it did so in a wrongly worded manner, it clearly intended to raise the issues women face online.
Raising awareness of women’s online issues
Women are under-represented in the online world which in turn means they’re under-represented in the VPN world. So much so that in developing regions, women are 50% less likely to be connected to the internet.
They’re also 1.6 times more likely to report that having a lack of skills is a barrier to accessing the internet.
With gender pay gaps a worldwide issue it further makes internet access more costly for women and with women more likely to be harassed online it can lead to a reduced amount of time using the internet or expressing views online.
It’s clear, women do use VPNs much less than men overall, but without statistics, it’s impossible to know if the percentage of internet skilled women is indeed any worse than internet skilled men when it comes to VPN use.
VPN use is often restricted to those with an interest in privacy and technology and there are large gaps between VPN-literacy in both traditional genders.
KeepSafe clearly tried to engage non-tech females but in doing so angered those within the tech industry. If non-tech females feel quite so affronted, who knows, but I can imagine the less technical females of the world to be slightly less perturbed by the wording than those who already have a clear grasp on VPN usage.
If you’re looking for a VPN provider that doesn’t mess up on women in tech, check out our VPN Comparison Guide.