Fighting Gender Bias In AI Field

“It just doesn’t seem to make sense. Unintentionally, the voice of women has been missing from the decision-making process,” said Pooja Goyal, co-founder and COO at Avishkaar.

Goyal has been active in advising and supporting multiple women-founded startups in the country, setting up innovation labs in over 1,200 schools helping over 200,000 children.

At The Rising 2021, Goyal emphasised the importance of building a more gender-inclusive AI industry and the role of education in it. She also spoke about the need to create a conducive environment that encourages women to take up STEM education.

Inclusive education 

In a recent survey, Avishkaar asked 5000 children and their parents on their career aspirations in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and next-generation technology. The participants were from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata.

Here are some of the findings: 

  • 95% of the children, including girls, recall male role models as inspiration in STEM fields, highlighting the urgent need to increase the exposure around women role models in STEM fields
  • 57% of female children opted for STEM and 85% male children opted for STEM
  • 68% of parents with female children and 81% of parentsamle children thought next-gen technology education and STEM is crucial
  • 56% of parents are keen for their children to pursue IT/Technology, more than any other subject. This is followed by science (46%) and mathematics (43%). In contrast, only 23% of parents wish their child to pursue arts-related subjects. 
  • On the other hand, 54%of the children wish to pursue science in future, while roughly 57% wish to pursue IT/technology. 

(Source: The Rising 2021) 

  • For over 60% of the children, parents remain the biggest influencers on career decisions
  • 45% of the children feel their parents have been extremely influential in their decision to pursue a career in STEM 
  • 74% of girls are influenced by parents compared to 58% boys.  

“At the end of the day, children will have their interest levels and their strengths, but it is important to ensure that we try and remove as many biases, as much as we can, which is very difficult,” Goyal added. 

Citing historian Yuval Noah Harari, Goyal said repetitive tasks are going to be done by robots. At the same time, humans will be involved in analysing and creating new products and services, which will require creative problem solving and decision-making skills, she added. 

Besides these, there would be requirements for jobs that focus on empathy. “The truth is 90-95% of these jobs are done by women. Caregiving jobs are going to become even more central to our humanity,” said Goyal. 

Further, she said, as technology is being developed and incorporated into our society, the gender gap needs to be addressed. Goyal believes women must come together to address core issues. “Speak up, amplify the voices of other women so that it becomes a part of our consciousness. That is critical to bring inclusivity not only in our society but also in the technology that we are building for the world of tomorrow,” concluded Goyal.

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