Press release

Girl Trouble: Breaking Through Bias in AI

01/03/2021

UNESCO and the World Economic Forum join forces to host an online panel on gender equality and women's leadership in Artificial Intelligence from 15h-17h CET on 8 March, International Women's Day. Vice Magazine's Asia Editor-in-Chief Natashya Gutierrez will moderate. Immediately following the discussion, there will be a media Q and A.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is well underway, and current trends in AI risk setting gender equality back decades. This timely panel brings together a range of leading female voices in tech from around the world to confront the deep-rooted gender imbalances skewing artificial intelligence design. It will tackle:

  1. The female training and recruitment crisis in AI: Women's voices are not feeding into the blueprint for our future. According to World Economic Forum data, only 22% of AI professionals globally are women. Companies hiring experts for AI and data science jobs estimate fewer than 1% of the applications they receive come from women. Women and girls are 4 times less likely to know how to programme computers, and 13 times less likely to file for technology patents. They are also less likely to occupy leadership positions in tech companies. In February this year, UNESCO's To Be Smart, the Digital Revolution will need to be inclusive warned women could be left behind in the race for jobs in AI. What can we do to attract more women work in the sector?
  2. The problem of Algorithmic bias against women: Leading research company, Gartner predicts that in 2022, 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias in data, algorithms or the teams responsible for managing them. UNESCO's seminal report 'I'd Blush if I Could', showed that AI-powered voice assistants like Alexa and Siri perpetuate harmful stereotypes of women as submissive and subservient. Is the gendering of AI part of the problem?

The panelists are all change-makers in AI:

  • Kay Firth-Butterfield, Keynote speaker. As head of AI & Machine Learning, and a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum, Kay develops new alliances to promote awareness of gender bias in AI;
  • Ashwini Asokan, CEO of Chennai, India-based Mad Street Den. She explores how Artificial Intelligence can be applied meaningfully and made accessible to billions across the globe;
  • Adriana Bora, a researcher using machine learning to boost compliance with the UK and Australian Modern Slavery Acts, to combat modern slavery, including the trafficking of women;
  • Anne Bioulac, a member of the Women in Africa Initiative, developing AI-enabled online learning to empower African women to use AI in digital entrepreneurship;
  • Meredith Broussard, a software developer and associate professor of data journalism at New York University, whose research focuses on AI in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good;
  • Latifa Mohammed Al-Abdul Karim, named by Forbes magazine as one of 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics, and as one of the women defining AI in the 21st century;
  • Wanda Munoz, of the Latin American Human Security Network. One of the Nobel Women’s Initiative's 2020 peacebuilders, she raises awareness around gender-based violence and autonomous weapons;
  • Nanjira Sambuli, a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel for Digital Cooperation and Advisor for the A+ Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms;
  • Jutta Williams, Product Manager at Twitter, analyzing how Twitter can improve its models to reduce bias;
  • Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General of Social and Human Sciences, leading the development of UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, the first global standard-setting instrument in the field.

 

Media, please register here
All other participants register here
The panel will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. Follow it directly on 8 March here
Recent UNESCO research on Gender and Artificial Intelligence:

Media Contact: Clare O'Hagan, +44 7715 991279