Gender Data Gap Conference
How to Avoid the Gender Data Gap in a Digitized Transportation Infrastructure
27 maj 2020, Stockholm
Digitization of our transportation infrastructure is running at full speed today. Technology is an important tool for ensuring sustainable development and we who run this process have a responsibility to support new technologies that lead to an economically, environmentally and socially inclusive society.
The use of artificial intelligence, computer learning and apps are becoming normal in the design, building, maintenance and operation phases of our infrastructure. For this reason, it is increasingly important that we make sure our technologies are inclusive and relevant for all its users. Data plays an important role in this. But as it turns out, data is not necessarily neutral and free of bias.
We are taking transportation infrastructure as a specific focus area because it is such an essential part of the built environment. What we see happening is that smart infrastructure is more and more becoming the cement between societal building blocks: from supporting electrified our autonomous vehicles that reduce the environmental impact, to providing accurate information about the quality to support emergency services into urban areas…and so much more.
Studies have shown how men’s and women’s travel patterns differ and how different access to transport is a major producer of gender inequality.
When we develop new technology we cannot take ourselves and who we are out of the design process. Our own realizations, needs and habits become implicitly part of the design. We also often test our prototypes on our own teams.
- With women making up only 22% of transport workers in Europe, what does this mean for our engineering products?
- Will we then end up with cars that are safer for men? Yes we already have.
- Will we develop virtual reality tools that make women feel dizzy? Yes we already have.
- Will we develop voice recognitions tools that don’t work well for women. Yes we do.
Will we end up with a transportation infrastructure system that is only optimized for half of the population. Lets hope not.
We have to make sure that within our digitization efforts our data is inclusive and representative of the entire population. This means within our engineering disciplines data bias and the gender data gap needs to be known and we need to actively prevent our society from locking itself into solutions and processes that are not inclusive and thus not safe.
The main aim of the conference is to raise the awareness of its urgency to decision makers and leaders that drive the development of infrastructure in the built environment.
On behalf of Road2Science's competence center, Teknikkvinnor Sverige AB has conducted a study on gender equality in the road engineering sector. The aim was to gain a deeper understanding of the current gender distribution at different hierarchical levels in the road engineering sector in Europe and the United States, in both academia and industry.
Data from the survey clearly shows that the proportion of women decreases higher up in the hierarchy. Download the survey (pdf 903 kB) .
Road2Science has identified the gender gap in the data "Gender Data Gap" as an important challenge in social development and will continue working to counter this in the digitization of the transport infrastructure sector. The upcoming conference is one of the first steps in this direction.