Breaking through the Bias in AI

UNESCO say there is an urgent need for more women to participate in and lead the design, development, and deployment of AI systems. Evidence shows, they continue, that by 2022, 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias.

AI Recruiters searching for female AI specialists online just cannot find them. Companies hiring experts for AI and data science jobs estimate fewer than 1 per cent 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 patent. They are also less likely to occupy leadership positions in tech companies.

On March 8, UNESCO and the World Economic Forum presented a Round Table entitled Girl Trouble: Breaking Through The Bias in AI. The built  on UNESCO’s cutting edge research in this field, and the flagship 2019 publication “I’d Blush if I Could”, and policy guidance on gender equality in the 2020 UNESCO Draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.   The panel will looked at:

  1. The 4th industrial revolution is on our doorstop, and gender equality risks being set back decades; What more can we do to attract more women to design jobs in AI, and to support them to take their seats on the boards of tech companies.
  2. How can AI help us advance women and girls' rights in society? And how can we solve the problem of algorithmic gender bias in AI systems?If

If, like me, you missed the event in March you can catch up on YouTube below.

Online Recruitment and the Digital Divide

Job Interview, Woman, Female, JobThere's an interesting article today in WONKHE, the UK online higher education newspaper. Clare Adams in an article entitled "Digital capital is a whole-system issue – building it takes more than hardware", says universities must confront the scale and impact of the digital divide in ways they have not had to do before.

She proposes building on the six key elements of “digital access” including infrastructure, connectivity, expert instruction and a quiet place to study, as well as the requisite hardware and software, identified by the recent Gravity Assist report on digital learning and teaching.

And although hardware and software are onbioulsy important, she says that research and "reflection on the employer response to the opportunities presented by digital recruitment, finds that technology, which ought to be a huge leveller in terms of creating new pathways into employment and connections with employers for graduating students, is not delivering on its promise."

She says that this "research suggests that inclusion is very much a mindset, not a toolkit. We recommend that students be supported to access the technology they need – and while laptops may be in scarce supply in some households, 98 per cent of people aged 16-24 have access to a mobile device, which indicates the importance of mobile-enabled technologies."

The main proposal is recognising "the importance of developing digital capital – competence and confidence in using, not just recruitment tools, but social networking sites, knowing what to say to make a connection with an employer and online interview and assessment centre hygiene and etiquette – an area where careers services can certainly play a useful role."

"But the capitals lens also suggests measures to boost students’ digital access and competence can only ever chip away at entrenched inequalities.| But with this in mind they they recommend that "employers consider a more proactive approach to recruitment using technology to cast their net  connect with possible recruits, and "actively scrutinising whether established recruitment practices are inadvertently excluding potentially great candidates from consideration."

With davancing technology and the Covid 19 pandemic there is a growing trend towards online interviews. But unless active steps are taken this trend might only deepen teh digital divide rather than realising the potential of digital technology to deliver diverse and dynamic graduate recruitment.