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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: AI needs a diversity intervention

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Female CEOs are on the rise; the stats on LGBTQ entrepreneurs; AI needs to check itself; and more.

  • There's been lots of talk about AI and gender/racial discrimination, and The Fast Mode argues that we shouldn't even be continuing to pursue AI research until these issues are under control. Thankfully, the EU and 14 other countries seem to agree, and have come together to form the Global Partnership on AI group to ensure that future developments in AI reduce discrimination and sexism. While funding for AI is surging, not enough research or work has been done in regards to ensuring it is equitable for all. The article explains that because the majority of computer programmers are white men, eradicating discrimination isn't possible, even when it's not intentional: "This colors our worldview and in turn, the technology we create; we aren't necessarily actively misogynistic or racist but our environment allows us to perpetuate the biases ingrained in us by society." It's time this comes to an end before future advances are made in this corrupt imprint. (See WiCipedia: Facial recognition tech's heyday is over.)

    AI's lack of recognition of people of color and women isn't cutting it. It's time for an overhaul before we reach 'Jetsons' status.(Source: Pixabay)
    AI's lack of recognition of people of color and women isn't cutting it. It's time for an overhaul before we reach "Jetsons" status.
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • Against all odds, female CEOs are on the up and up this year. Yahoo explained that female CEOs are being appointed at a record rate (23.4%), particularly for "replacement CEO" positions – literally substitutions coming in to take the place of ousted and stepping-down leaders. Some sectors see even larger numbers of female CEOs, such as government and nonprofit companies, where women are nearly 60% of incoming heads this year. While women make up a much lower percentage of the CEO share in tech (about 10%), that's still up nearly 7% since last year. So why the sudden shift? Some of it may be companies looking for a positive media spin: If a male CEO is booted for a sexual harassment claim, replacing him with a woman is going to look better in the headlines. And while the numbers are headed in the right direction, they won't exactly change the industry either. CEOs are still majority male and predominantly white, and it'll take a lot of unseated older white men to make a real dent in the demographics at the top. (See WiCipedia: Global female income hits all-time high, continues to rise.)

  • New research on LGBTQ entrepreneurship in the US from StartOut summarizes the findings of years of work and millions of data points. The study examines how LGBTQ entrepreneurs in particular are faring in the face of discrimination and harassment, and found that tech was the No. 1 area of focus for startups from this group. Nearly 50% of VCs knew of an LGBTQ founder in their funding portfolio, and by and large that fact didn't seem to hurt the founders, unless of course they were female. Gender played a bigger role in discrimination than sexual orientation, with female founders raising less than half as much money as their male counterparts. Another key issue for this group was location, with nearly 80% of founders located in California, New York and Illinois – places that are LGBTQ-friendly – resulting in a major loss of wealth creation in all of the other markets. Check out the full report here to read all about the experiences of LGBTQ entrepreneurs – there's way more intel where this came from. (See WiCipedia: New inclusivity report for LGBTQ workers.)

  • Employee reviews can say a lot, and in the case of CEO rankings, it can be a make-or-break evaluation of a company. CNBC rounded up the data on recent CEO reviews, specifically addressing their approach to diversity. Data came from review site Comparably, which includes reviews for 60,000 US companies, and divides rankings between small-to-midsized and large companies. For the large companies, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, came out on top for his continued efforts to expand the company's inclusion efforts, like its recent goal to double the number of black senior staffers in the next five years. Yet many of the big companies with the best reviews are the ones we frequently see in the news for discrimination or harassment snafus and low diversity percentages, like Apple and Google (and even Microsoft). So while the individual CEOs might be encouraging change, the companies as a whole clearly aren't doing enough to enact those changes. (See WiCipedia: How tech can evolve beyond performative activism.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].

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