We talked with Dr. Laura Dornheim, a feminist, blogger, politician and eyeo’s Head of Communication about how to make the web better for the users, which of her feminist projekts she liked most, the situation for women in Germany and who her role models were and are.
Q: Laura, eyeo has set itself the goal of making the web better for users and publishers. How do you want to do that?
Laura: The web is still largely funded by ads. Many sites couldn’t exist without the money they make from ads. However, unlimited space and new formats have made online ads so annoying that many users are upset and are looking for a way to get rid of them. With Adblock Plus, we pioneered a compromise between publishers and users: We block the most annoying ads but still allow publishers to display some, decent ads to create income. By now, many publishers, small and big ones, around the world are happy partners of the Acceptable Ads program.
Q: You are involved in various feminist projects. Which is/was your favorite project and what was your task?
Laura: I love every single one of them as they all aim to make the world a better, fairer place. Right now I am part of a small task force that tries to improve how Hate Speech and digital violence against women can be dealt with more effectively, from a technical as well as legal standpoint. Unfortunately I have a lot of personal experience with “shitstorms”. But at least this helps to evaluate effective measures. Through this I learned about nohate.online, a research project that aims to train AI to successfully detect hate speech. Of course there are some badass feminists working on this project.
Q: What is the situation for women in Germany from your point of view? How far are we on the way to equal opportunity and what else needs to be done?
Laura: If you look at the last 100 years, we accomplished so much. If you look at the current state, there is still so much inequality. I always try not to become too pessimistic but focus on making an impact. If I look at start-up founders or DAX-boards, it is more than obvious that money and power is still given to men quite easily while women have to work so much harder to even get a small chance. So I won’t stop speaking up for female founders and ideas like only granting public funding to diverse founding teams. As part of FidAR, I am lobbying for a more effective quota law for management boards.
And wherever I can, I try to challenge gender stereotypes as I know from research that they are the root for most inequality. One recent, small act was that I made it mandatory that all our corporate communication is written genderneutral, in English as well as in German.
Q: Who or what has shaped you in life and who are your role models and why?
Laura: Though she didn’t own a computer, I think my very first role model was Pippi Langstrumpf. She doesn’t care about unnecessary rules or society’s expectations. My very first line of HTML was a rainbow-colored, blinking text. I think Pippi would have loved it.
Today, I am extremely lucky to be surrounded with role models. Lucy Höhler, who taught herself to code, Kübra Gümüsay, who has the clearest vision for a more just world and Jutta Steiner, who founded a cryptocurrency start-up are just three of the women that are role models and friends at the same time.