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AI Needs Women, Women Need AI: Gender Equality and Women’s Leadership in the AI Sector
 
 

 

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, UNESCO will address the issue of the persistence and severity of the gender gap in digital skills and the AI Sector. A panel will reflect on how to help women and girls develop strong AI skills, and will explore how to address the  "ICT gender equality paradox” and ensure women’s full participation in the design, development, and deployment of AI systems.

According to a 2019 study by the World Economic Forum, only 22% of AI professionals globally are women.  Why should we be worried?  A better representation of women and diverse mindsets in the development and deployment of AI would reduce the gender stereotypes and the negative consequences they lead to. If that is not the case, evidence suggests that by 2022, 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias.

But how can we ensure gender inclusion and diversity in the AI Sector and the technology itself?  Figure Eight report that many companies hiring experts for AI and data science jobs estimate that fewer than 1 per cent of the applications they receive come from women.  Today, women and girls are 25 per cent less likely than men to know how to leverage digital technology for basic purposes, 4 times less likely to know how to programme computers and 13 times less likely to file for technology patent.  They are also less likely to occupy leadership positions in tech companies, and remain largely underrepresented in online searches for specialists in the AI sector.

Why is this the case?  What can be done to address – and redress – this situation?  On the occasion of International Women’s Day, UNESCO in cooperation with the World Economic Forum and the Women4AI Daring Circle of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society are convening this panel to highlight the persistence and severity of the gender gap in digital skills and the AI Sector, reflect on how to help women and girls develop strong AI skills, and explore how to address the  "ICT gender equality paradox” and ensure women’s full participation in the design, development, and deployment of AI systems.

Building on UNESCO’s cutting edge research in this field and flagship publication “I’d Blush if I Could” as well as policy areas for action concerning gender equality in the UNESCO Draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, this panel will explore risks and challenges related to AI development and algorithmic bias, and its impact on progress towards gender equality.  Specifically, this panel will address two main issues: 

  1. Why including women in AI design, development, and deployment is necessary in order to mitigate the challenges of gender bias and other societal concerns, and what can be done to increase women’s participation in the AI Sector, and; 
  2. Opportunities for AI as a technology to address barriers to women’s advancement in society globally, and what can be done to redress existing bias in AI systems.  

Panelists will share their view and best practices on how to 1) overcome the built-in gender biases found in AI devices, data sets and algorithms; 2) improve the global representation of women in technical roles and in boardrooms in the technology sector, and 3) create and implement robust and gender-inclusive AI principles, guidelines and codes of ethics. 

A particular focus of the panel will be on women’s leadership in the AI Sector at all levels, from big tech to the start-up economy in developing countries.  Panelists will be women leading change in the AI sector, not only in terms of C-suite professionals, but also women opening doors in the AI Sector and in AI technology itself, courageously exposing injustice and algorithmic biases that lead to the development of new tools and policies in the public and private sector in this field. 

REGISTRATION

 

  • For Media, please click here. 
  • For General Public, please click here. 

PROGRAMME

Introductory Remarks

 

 

Gabriela Ramos

Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

UNESCO

 

 

 

Keynote

 

 

Kay Firth-Butterfield

Head of AI & Machine Learning

and Member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum

 

 

 

Moderator

 

 

Natashya Gutierrez

Editor in Chief

VICE Asia

 

 

 

Panel session

Question and answers session with the media

Closing remarks and the way forward

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