So algorithms are sexist. Who knew they had a point of view?

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  • And are we being discriminated against?

    In the past year we’ve become increasingly wary about technology and the effects that it can have on society.

    We found out last year that our smartphones could actually be intrinsically sexist, and from patriarchal predictive texting (suggesting the word ‘fat’ when speaking about women and ‘tall’ when talking about men), to PMS tracking apps for boyfriends, we found that the gender roles they perpetuate could actually be pretty harmful.

    Let’s not even get started about the fact that Siri can tell you Donald Trump’s birthplace within seconds but until very recently wasn’t equipped to answer basic questions on rape and assault.

    Now it turns out technology could be even more backwards than we thought, with recent studies finding that algorithms are actually pretty sexist too

    Yes, really.

    According to a recent study, women are likely to be discriminated against when applying for everything from university places to bank loans, and all because of the algorithms built into the programmes that pre-select applicants.

    It has even got to the point where we should question whether intrinsically sexist algorithms are actually keeping women out of certain sectors.

    ‘We have a problem,’ Professor Noel Sharkey, Co-Director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, told Today. He went on to explain how the deeply embedded algorithms used by robotic platforms create an automatic bias, something he wants redressed.

    ‘We need many more women coming into this field to solve it,’ he explained, encouraging more women to get into the IT industry.

    There has been a recent push to get increasing numbers of women involved in STEM, something that Professor Sharkey has also emphasised, and with women currently making up only 9% of the UK’S engineering force and revelations that a UK medical school had negatively selected against women, there’s no denying he’s right.

    Times need to change, and we need to start opening conversations to put that into action.

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