Last week I had the chance to visit the United Nations Office in Geneva for the first time. The reason for my visit was the "Closing the Gender Gap in the Digital World" event organised by ITU and Facebook Developer Circles.
Michal Švácha, a Senior Software Engineer from Developer Circles Facebook posed a question for each of the panelists:
“What is one thing that men can do to help close the gap and make the tech world better for women?”
The panelists all provided well thought out changes that we can make to combat inequality at home and at work.
Take the lead to pick up the children from school. So when men and women are being hired, the employers will think that it’s the same.
(Plus it gives your partner a bit of extra time, and you some extra quality time with your child. Bonus!)
Write about women and talk about women. Allow them to show up in data-sets and search results.
Amazon used an AI for evaluating prospective employees, and the AI automatically thought women were less good, because that's what the (biased) dataset told it.
Tell your boss and people you know that you know this woman is doing amazing work and deserve a promotion.
Simply by talking about working in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) we convey the idea that it's perfectly normal for women to work there as well. Role models matter!
Hannah Short, Women in Technology, CERN
Don’t just give “boy’s toys” (cars, machines etc.) to girls, but give typical “girl’s toys” to boys as well. Yes, boys like playing with dolls too!
Don’t default to making the woman in a meeting taking the minutes, bringing coffee etc. Ask a man to do it.
Dr. Ondrisek provided not just one, but a whole list of suggestions:
- Ask what do you want to do when you grow up? (Asking do, not be, can provide a great difference in the answers you get.)
- Expose kids to non-gender-conform stories/literature/movies.
- Avoid gendered toys.
- Read books, watch films, listen to music by women.
- Have a female role model.
- Inform yourself about pink tax, menstruation, TSS, and the clitoris.
- Promote women.
- Be a stay-at-home dad.
- Interrupt men who interrupt women.
- Don’t laugh about misogyn jokes of your friends.
Morgan Rivière, AI Research Engineer at Facebook
When you are designing software, you design it in a certain way.
A facial recognition AI had a +90% success rate identifying young white men, but single digit success rate for women of colour﹡. There clearly is room for improvement.
﹡ Unfortunately I didn't note down the exact numbers.