Does having a woman's perspective shape the development of dating tech? Of course, according to our panelists. By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)
"To ponder the future of dating, it's always helpful to look to the past," Zivity co-founder Cyan Banister said to kick off our Future of Your Love Life panel. Thinking back to her grandparents' courtship in the 1950s, Banister pointed out that dating didn't change all that much for decades after that. Our choices were fairly limited and extended basically only to people who lived nearby or with whom you worked or studied. But thanks to the tools we have today, dating has changed drastically and you can meet someone several time zones away or someone with similar interests right around the corner.
That's today. But what about tomorrow? The panelists had plenty of opinions:
Has having a women's perspective helped shaped your product?
Women aren't generally the aggressors in initiating interactions, Lori Cheek, founder of Cheek'd said, discussing her own personal frustration with not being able to break the ice when she spotted an attractive stranger. That experience informed her product, which gives daters cards to initiate an online connection with someone out in the world who intrigues them.
Dawoon Kang, co-founder of Coffee Meets Bagel, agreed that a woman's perspective was valuable. She mentioned a study of who shares what sorts of photos of who on Facebook. The results: everyone was looking at women and no one (including women) was looking at pics of men. Women generally, she concluded, don't really get such a kick out of browsing photos of men. Dating products for women need to take account of that fact.
How many people have STDs?
This question was addressed to Sheree Winslow, head of marketing at BeforeWeDo, a company that helps people do STD testing at home. Her answer produced a gasp from the audience. In the U.S. there are 110 million STDs. That means either the person to your left or your right, statistically speaking, has an STD. Prevalence, in other words, is probably much higher than you think.
What stigma or challenges did you face?
Kang mentioned the difficulty she has faced recruiting an engineer for her team. She blames the trouble on the generally short supply of developers, as well as possibly the fact that a male developer might feel out of place in female-dominated team.
Winslow discussed the trouble her site's users face getting their testing reimbursed by their insurance companies, as well as pending FDA approval for some sorts of tests.
Where's dating going?
Cheek responded, "where we are right now, our obsession with our phones, you could be losing the opportunity of meeting the love of your life. They could be sitting right in front of you." Which is what happened to her. She recently met her partner when she put her phone down and spotted a hot guy right in front of her, an experience which inspired her dream future dating tech: an app that alerts you when you're walking down and the love of your life walks past.
Kang's prediction: Online dating is going to disappear. The line will be so blurred you're not going to be able to tell if you met someone online or offline. Winslow noted that people are still really awkward about discussing STDs. She's hoping in the future those conversations will become more common. She also hopes that women will become more open about other issues around sexuality -- she gave the example of discussing miscarriage -- and that there will be increased content available around these topics.
Jessica Stillman (@entrylevelrebel) is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, contributes regularly to Forbes and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others.