The Deadly Data Gap: Gender and Data
London, Geneva, Berlin
Women at the Table is thrilled to launch its paper The Deadly Data Gap: Gender and Data in the margins of the British Standards Institution (BSI) Standards Conference and Awards and Closing Plenary on which Women at the Table will speak. The Deadly Data Gap* focuses on data and gender and follows on from Women at the Table’s “We Shape Our Tools, and Therefore Our Tools Shape Us”: Affirmative Action for Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Automated Decision-Making and Gender a foundational document for the <A+> Alliance which Women at the Table co-leads with Ciudadania Inteligente, and which forms the basis of the <A+> Alliance launch at the Internet Governance Forum next week in Berlin on 26 November 2019.
All data tells a story. And like all stories, its power and purpose depend on the protagonist and their point of view. Data is everywhere and influences almost everything we do, often without our recognizing its influence. The Deadly Data Gap highlights the mounting evidence that the exclusion of women is pervasive in data research, collection and analysis. From 20th century drug trials, to the design of safety features in cars, to the work equipment we wear – women have been left out of the data story and there is a data gender gap. Data uses the default of a “standardized male”, a default of flawed systems and cultural standards that currently form the physical framework and infrastructure of how we live and work. These defaults are so normalized we don’t even notice them, yet they have proven to harm and lead to deadly consequences.
As data is the lifeblood of our world’s decision-making, and with a data revolution compounded by AI, we are at a critical turning point – we must create new norms and write a new inclusive data story. We must make the data revolution a gender data revolution grounded in human rights. We need data that accurately reflects and represents the lives and diversity of women. This gender data must be available, accessible and analysed – then everyone can thrive.
The paper provides practical and immediately implementable recommendations centred around accountability, inclusion, and cooperation.
We must seize the momentum on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action and utilize the largest untapped intellectual resource on the planet – women and girls. We must continue to galvanise women’s influence and reshape our society’s systems. We must establish new norms for lasting institutional and cultural systems change for both women and men, now. Then everyone can thrive. No one should be systematically uncounted, missing, or marked as ‘incomplete’ - no one should be invisible. We must leave no one behind.
*Once again we speak of all intersections of women and girls, who serve as a proxy for all groups traditionally invisible and ‘other’ to the system – those traditionally left behind.
Women at the Table is a growing global civil society organization based in Geneva, Switzerland: the first organization to focus on systems change by helping feminists gain influence in sectors that have key structural impact: economy, democracy and governance, technology and sustainability.
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