Geneva, 10 April 2019
By Aida Mahmutović
Ms Sarah Clatterbuck (Director of Engineering, YouTube-Google) said that without representation of women, technology is developed with gender bias which has grave implications for women in society. Biases are shown in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI has shown that facial recognition has a 1% error rate for light-skinned men and a 35% error for dark-skinned women. Underrepresentation of women in technology represents an economic opportunity issue. Learning computational thinking does not require access to computers. Logic, statistics, algorithm design, or accessible concepts can be introduced to children of all genders and incomes.
Ms Limor Shmerling Magazanik (Managing Director, Israel Tech Policy Institute) said that the key to getting more women into tech is a supportive environment and encouragement from early schooling to senior management, using a ‘different yet equal’ approach. Workplaces and education frameworks were designed by and for men. In 2014, Israel had 20% female students in high-tech professions down from 40% 25 years ago. ‘Israel’s government goal now is to reach 40% women students in high-tech professions again,’ said Magazanik.
Ms Maya Plentz (Innovation Policy Advisor, European Commission) said that a collective effort from multilateral organisations, governments, and the private sector should continue emphasising the importance of having women in decision-making positions in the technology sector. In big tech companies, there is the possibility to use AI to ‘uncover and categorise’ the participation of women in their corporate structures. The pay gap between men and women is one of today’s pressing questions. ‘So we should really work on making sure that public funds and venture capital supports the new entrepreneur, the ‘elderpreneur,’ said Plentz.
Mr Kenneth Herman (Director of Technology Programming, Aspire Artemis Foundation) said that the lack of visible female representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is making it difficult for women and girls to get involved in the tech field. The Foundation encourages women and girls to become directly involved with STEM. They work with women in different regions and are highlighting success stories of women and girls in order for them ‘to see what they can be’. The Foundation also recognised the importance of integrating arts, education, and culture into their programmes.