Gendering ICT

September 17th, 2019

Rome, Italy

A workshop of ACM womENcourage 2019

Workshop description

The celebration of women in ICT cannot occur without facing the problem of the under-representation of women in Computing. As recently published in ACM Communications, women earned 28.5%, 25.1%, and 18.1% of all bachelor-level computer science degrees in US in 1995, 2004, and 2014, respectively. These low percentages are confirmed by data gathered in all European countries. In particular in Italy, in Academic Year 2017/2018 the presence of women in Bachelors in Computer Engineering is 21,01% and in Computer Science is 12,23% while in Master CE is 14,83% and in Master CS is 16,32%, thus witnessing a strong under-representation of women and a very low access to career progression.

Many studies have dealt with this problem that is common to the entire area of STEM, by trying to understand which is the role of stereotypes and of images seen in the media influencing the young women in the access to ICT studies. A lot of women’s associations and networks (e.g. NERD, Women in Technology, ProjectCSGIRLS, etc) have promoted projects to remove these beliefs and attract young women into STEM and particularly into CS and CE, through examples, statistics, focused projects, and media content analysis.

Gendering ICT does not only imply to change the numbers of women in CS/CE but also to address the problem of including the gender dimension in the contents of CS/CE. How a new gendered Science can be developed by taking into account the gender dimension? How can we formulate new scientific questions while having the awareness that another Science is possible? In this context it is necessary to analyze if algorithms and tools are neutral from the gender point of view. This is particularly important in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Indeed recent studies in these fields show that, for instance, Machine Learning algorithms can upload the gender bias diffused in the society. So we speak of Biased ML. The problem arises since little attention is paid to how data are collected, processed and organized.

Intended goals and outcomes:

  • Analyzing the most common stereotypes and gender-clichéd images about women in ICT causing the existing gender gap
  • Comparing the different approaches to promote the presence of women, and particularly of young women, in ICT education and research and stimulating an effective networking among projects
  • Exploring new communication languages for the debate around the gender bias in CS/CE, and the subsequent ethical issues it poses
  • Developing gendered innovation in CS/CE, with new general questions to take into account a gender point of view
  • Facing the problem of designing algorithmic methodologies that do not subsume social bias about sex, gender and race.

Programme schedule

14:00 - 16:00
Panel (Chair: Lorenza PERINI)

Lorenza PERINI (University of Padua): Even with the best intentions

Silvana BADALONI (University of Padua): Gendering ICT - Data and Innovations

Gunay KAZIMZADE (Technical University of Berlin): Gender and racial bias in AI-based systems

Francesca Alessandra LISI (University of Bari): New languages for communicating gender issues in ICT - An experience with performing arts

Prado NIETO and Anna CIAMPI (UNICC – United Nations International Computing Centre): UN plan for gender
16:00 - 16:30 Closing

Organising Committee

Department of Information Engineering, University of Padua, Italy

Francesca A. LISI
Department of Computer Science, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Italy

Lorenza PERINI
Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies, University of Padua, Italy

University of Padua
Università degli Studi di Bari