Hot off the Press: The Gender Data Gap
Every month, the Towards Equality team selects a few pieces we’ve seen in the press that caught our attention around one particular theme. In February, it’s the “gender data gap.”
We knew going into this one that the search wouldn’t be easy. As soon as we looked up “gender data gap” (on Bing, Brave, DuckDuckGo, Google and Yahoo), the first articles published by media outlets we saw come up around the subject had to do with Caroline Criado Perez and her 2019 highly-acclaimed exposé-book Invisible Women. Her own piece for Time Magazine was in the top ten results across the five search engines we tried.
But what’s happened since then?
We obviously cannot answer this question fully. We’re not researchers. But in our humble attempt to find stories that have to do with the lack of gender data and with gender bias in data, we managed to come across some interesting and inspiring work. We divided them by topics, to give you an idea of the different areas you can explore for new angles and perspectives.
In 2012, Kirsty Treloar, 20 years old, was murdered in London. Looking into the story behind the young woman’s death, Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of a local domestic and sexual violence charity, found out that no one was keeping count of the women that were killed by men. This led her to the creation of the Femicide Census, a project keeping track and trying to make sense of femicides in the UK.
In 2021, The Observer teamed up with the organization for a campaign titled “End Femicide.” Journalists from the newspaper were given access to the ‘Femicide Census’ database, which allowed them to cover femicides in the UK like they hadn’t before — from “the hidden scandal of older women killed by men” to “the perpetrators: inside the minds of men who abuse women.”
Bias in AI has been a hot topic that comes and goes in the past couple of years. This showed up a lot in the tech section, and rightfully so. One interesting take on the subject is Vox’s dive into “why it’s so damn hard to make AI fair and unbiased.” Published in 2022, it manages to cover how Artificial Intelligence learns biases, the consequences it can have, and the solutions the industry has been experimenting with.
But AI isn’t for techies only. Algorithms and software are everywhere nowadays, even in healthcare and education. Maybe looking into your area of expertise and how it intersects with AI and the gender data gap can spark some ideas?
The way cities are designed can be a goldmine of stories. Most often than not, girls’ and women’s specific habits haven’t been taken into account in city planning: architecture, transport, parks…
But there are exceptions, and Vienna is one of them. In the 1990s, officials found out, thanks to a study, that starting at a certain age, girls stopped playing as much in public parks as they used to while boys continued to do so. This was one of the starting points that led the Austrian capital to start “gender mainstreaming.” Roaming the streets of the city, BBC Travel tells the story of this urban and cultural transformation.
In order to highlight the lack of diversity in climate-science research, Carbon Brief decided to look at the authors of 100 highly-cited research papers between 2016 and 2020, and see what gender and “country of affiliation” they represented. Among their findings: only 25% of the papers’ authors were women.
The piece exposes and analyzes the data, then frames it all within the bigger context. It also features testimonies and analysis by a diverse group of academics.