WiCipedia: AI's Dark Side, Diversity's Baby Steps & the Power/Privilege Dynamic

This week in our WiC roundup: Allies in privilege and power; automation gone awry; no pats on the back; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

July 5, 2019

5 Min Read
WiCipedia: AI's Dark Side, Diversity's Baby Steps & the Power/Privilege Dynamic

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Allies in privilege and power; automation gone awry; no pats on the back; and more.

  • Career Contessa addressed power and privilege at work this week in both an article and a podcast. The topic of privilege often seems to get lost in the rose-tinted glasses of tech, and even with minority workers struggling for equal pay and treatment, you've gotta admit the tech industry has got it pretty good. The article addresses all of the daily habits that most women in tech do with ease and take for granted, like getting to work safely and having access to a bathroom or nursing station. Since few of us in tech need to tackle these fundamental issues on a regular basis, the article stressed the need for people in places of power to become allies to those who aren't as privileged. (See WiCipedia: Male Allies, Co-Working Spaces & Automation.) Figure 1: Are You Riding the Privilege Train? Better look out for those who are struggling as well. (Source: Pixabay) Better look out for those who are struggling as well.
    (Source: Pixabay)

    • While the tech industry is making small strides towards diversity, Digital Strategist Luvvie Ajayi says we should not be rewarding it for baby steps. In a Silicon Republic article, Luvvie says about the industry as a whole, "We can't really give them a pat on the back for the most basic things because that's what they're supposed to do." Luvvie explains that her time in the industry has shown her that companies are referring to white women when they say "diversity," and that's not enough change for a celebration: "Diversity just means reflecting the world as it is, so it's not just about women, it's about colour, black people, it's about trans people, it's about Muslims," she expands. (See WiCipedia: Ageism, Diversity Training & Tackling Algorithms.)

    • Despite all of the new campaigns to get girls involved in STEM early on, boys are still being encouraged to enter the industry at a much higher rate. Bustle explains that "48 percent of girls aged 16 to 18 have discounted a career in technology altogether compared to 26 percent of boys and 45 percent of boys had been advised to consider a career in the field compared to only 20 percent of girls." Considering these are the highest-ever numbers for girls in STEM, they're still alarmingly low, and it's caused some to take drastic measures. Innovation Origins takes the example of The Technical University of Eindhoven, which has vowed to only hire women for science jobs in the next year and a half. Euro Commissioner of Transport (and former managing director of Telekom Slovenia) Violeta Bulc said, "I sincerely believe in quotas. So I do believe that we need not lower standards, but that we need to encourage women to apply for the jobs. The way we did it in the European Commission is that we set targets. Women should be represented in like 40 percent of the top jobs in the Commission. And within four years, we got that." (See WiCipedia: A Female-Only Island, Gender Quotas & Twitter's Oprah.)

    • The number of woman-owned companies is at an all-time high, according to Forbes, yet online businesses are lagging behind. Between 2007 and 2018, female-owned businesses grew by 58%, and "some 2,000 new women-owned businesses are started every day." However, Melbourne-based Flippa, which provides a platform for buying and selling online businesses, reports that only 3% of the businesses that use the service are owned by women, and only 6% of the sales come from women. What gives? "At this time it would appear men are more likely to start digital businesses than women and ultimately this feeds the buy/sell community," said Flippa Founder Blake Hutchison to Forbes. "We want to highlight female business owners who are a part of the next critical small business movement -- digital small business." (See WiCipedia: New Networking Rules, Canada's Pay Gap & Investing in Female Founders.)

    • It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that automation has a dark side. In the most depressing and shocking news of the week, The Verge reported that a new AI app has been invented that will take a photo of a clothed woman and make it nude. The app, called DeepNude, was created by a dumb dumb called "Alberto," who said he got the idea from x-ray glasses in comic books and didn't think it could possibly harm anyone. Yet in the age of revenge porn, all women are targets for fake images, even at work by a vengeful coworker. While legislation is currently being moved through the system to put restrictions on harmful technology like this, it will be slow to progress. There has never been a more important time for women to join the AI industry and put it back on course. If AI is inevitable, we need to make sure that it's used for good and is consensual. (See WiCipedia: Fembots Create Gender Divide & Snap Tackles Culture Issues and WiCipedia: Tinkerbell Effect, Photoshop F-Ups & Discrimination Retribution.)

      — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Eryn Leavens

Special Features & Copy Editor

Eryn Leavens, who joined Light Reading in January 2015, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before earning her BA in creative writing and studio arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. She also completed UC Berkeley Extension's Professional Sequence in Editing.

She stumbled into tech copy editing after red-penning her way through several Bay Area book publishers, including Chronicle Books, Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull Press and Seal Press. She spends her free time lifting heavy things, growing her own food, animal wrangling and throwing bowls on the pottery wheel. She lives in Alameda, Calif., with two cats and two greyhounds.

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