By: Claudia López Moncada, PhD in Information Science and Technology. Cenia associate researcher and member of the line “Human-centered Artificial Intelligence”. Academic of the Department of Computer Science at USM.

Part of the ways we use technology has to do with the time we can devote to it. It is a fact that women have less free time to use the technology, and therefore less time to develop the necessary skills to benefit from it. A couple of years ago I conducted a project for microentrepreneurs women (App Aliadas), and we realized that they do not often use a computer, their work tool is the cell phone, so we could not develop an application for a large screen, because they do not generally use a computer, they do not have time to sit in front of it to use it.

Studies have shown, for example, the differences between male and female microentrepreneurs. Most of men who do entrepreneurship do it because they have an idea, they want to innovate, however, women generally do it out of necessity. Most of the stories tell that when a man decides to start a business, that is his whole life, all his hours are available for that, on the other hand, when women start a microenterprise, they must also dedicate time to take care of their children, maintain their home, among other tasks.

On the other hand, there are a myriad of small and large obstacles for women in pursuing academic life. Many women decide to become pregnant after pursuing a PhD. Some even tend to postpone it a little longer after this. There are those who choose to have them, but that has many costs. For several years, ANID has been carefully working with gender x-rays in science, technology, knowledge and innovation, studies that show with hard data that the number of women enrolled in higher education is higher than that of men (54% and 46% respectively), however, it decreases as the academic degree advances, and the gap widens for women who move up the academic hierarchy. This pattern is repeated in all universities.

What are the influences? Many things, not only that women have decided to have children, but also the evaluation processes that show certain gender biases. Women are asked to do more service such as participating in committees or organizing events, activities that take up a lot of time, but which many women consider important. That time invested is time that you do not dedicate to your research, and, unfortunately, these activities are not valued by these academic hierarchies.

There are quite a few efforts to make artificial intelligence (AI) feminist, which is about thinking on how we use AI to redraw the distributions of power that exist today. People who do data feminism think about data that do not exist today, for example, the number of femicides in Latin America. There is no standard way of counting when it is a femicide and when it is not. In all the countries of the region, they do it in different ways. In Mexico, a woman began to document it, and now there is a network of researchers in Latin America collecting this data in all countries so that we have at least a picture of what is happening with this phenomenon. There are a lot of things that are not told, and data that unfortunately do not exist, and many of these things have to do with problems that affect only women. Part of the problem is that the people who make technology, who decide what technologies to build and what data to store, have been men for many decades.

Technology is just one of the tools we have as a society to combat widespread inequality. We must continue working to make different technologies available to all people, regardless of their gender identity, their social activities and other cultural barriers. Much of the separation of women from ICTs over the last 30 or 40 years has been because the idea of computers and video games has been installed as something masculine. It is necessary to make these technologies available in a way that does not have a gender identity, because we need all the diversity of experiences to be able to make better technology, and we cannot continue to exclude a certain part of society with decisions that have such an important impact on the way we conceptualize it today.

I believe that the new generations, men, women and non-binary people, bring other logics and are better equipped to fight these fights. They are more educated and have the vocabulary to say, for example, that there is a glass ceiling, or that patriarchy is a pervasive system that explains a lot of patterns in which we are living. I think they are more empowered than the generation I grew up in, and it has to do with the fact that we have better tools for women and for the society as a whole to understand the magnitude of what is going on. This is something we can thank the humanities, the social sciences and the feminist movement for: that today we have the conceptualizations that allow us to move towards a different world, a fairer one.


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