As I’ve worked with topics that involve open data and data sharing, what has struck me is the risk of inequality from, for example, too much or too little data. This inequality can contribute to racism, ageism, classism, religious backgrounds or sexism. This is not a new thought or discovery. Research has already been done and published on this topic, such as:
- Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks, exploring data-based discrimination and how technology affects civil and human rights and economic equity. The book explores how data can generate and further spread discrimination in sectors such as healthcare, housing, and child welfare.
- Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez, detailing how data was used to design a world for men. The book investigates a ‘one-size-fits-men’ approach and how male-centric data collection has impacted various aspects of life, ranging from smartphone design to medical trials to office design, with examples such as how air-conditioning in the office was selected based on data of the ideal temperature for men.
While participating in the United Nations Women’s Twitter chat this afternoon around the hashtag gender data (#GenderData), I was reminded of how important accurate and reliable data is to ensure equality and honest insights for everyone. Beyond that, next to accurate and reliable data we need information from all sides, including data on women and men and children, teenagers, adults and the elderly, for example. The question going forward is “how do we get there?”. Do we make more gender data open? Share more data on men and women between government officials, businesses, researchers, and non-profits? There is no one-fits-all approach or objectively right way forward.
In the UN Women’s Twitter chat, several questions around #GenderData were posed. Now, I paraphrase and re-pose some of these questions to you:
- Regarding gender data, what data remains most glaringly missing and what needs to be done to collect it? I.e., can further data sharing between stakeholders decrease the gender bias?
- What is one thing that can be done to inform countries on gender-responsive recovery?
- Women across the world are being unpaid for work. What can we do to support continued measurement of this aspect of women’s lives?
Share your thoughts and ideas with us on the SCDS forum!