IWD Twitter Panel

On Wednesday 8th March, the world joined together for International Women’s Day a movement which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The previous week, CW team expanded as we welcomed Vicky Sleight , ex Senior Director of GSMA Membership and GSMA Connected Women…perfect timing you could say.  Vicky has over 19 years in the telecoms industry having headed up Marketing for the likes of 02 and Motorola. More recently, Vicky is advocating for the GC Index which is a radical re-think of how organisations will identify and nurture key talent in the future.

In the lead up to the 8th March, we learnt very quickly that the CW membership are keen to champion diversity in the technology sector. We engaged with our members’ marketing departments and this is what we learnt:

Rupert Baines, Ultrasoc commented on the lack of gender diversity in tech: ‘It is a problem for the industry and one I hope we can address. There is a related problem of harassment & bullying (see the recent UBER disclosures) and we should not ignore that’.

Cambridge Judge Business School shared their forward-thinking plan ‘In terms of diversity objectives we are working towards, as part of our application for an Athena SWAN award we have an action plan of 53 objectives relating to gender diversity and equality.

So what was the point of the Twitter panel?
We want to engage in more discussion around important technology issues which matter to women. The push for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in all areas of industry is gathering rapid pace. There is growing coverage in the media about the impact this will have in a range of ethical areas, such as the impact on the relationship and boundaries between humans and machines, the potential for bias and prejudice in algorithms, data safety and security and the impact on the future of work, to name but some of the issues.

The topics we discuss should absolutely be futuristic and by doing activities like this panel, can only be positive. Vicky Sleight is championing a closed-door Diversity & Inclusion thought leadership project. It is crucial that any debate around the ethics of AI equally adopts a diversity and inclusion approach, to ensure that the ethical framework that is developed truly reflects an approach that will be accepted by society in general, not just those with technical expertise or interests.

Here’s what our Twitter Panellists had to say on Diversity:

Dr Theresa (Terri) Simpkin  CAHRI, CIPD, Churchill Fellow
Anglia Ruskin University

“We, as a community, cannot allow the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning and other complex digital advances to evolve without being embedded with diverse voices.  Today we struggle to retrofit inclusivity to a culturally ‘vanilla’ and dysfunctional set of workplace and social behaviours, expectations and structures.  With the development of emerging technologies, however, we must start as we mean to continue.  As a community we must recognise the value and significance of multiplicity and, as a matter of course, actively champion the refusal to accept exclusion for some and advantage for others.”

Sammy Kingston, Founder of Virtual Umbrella 

“It was great to be involved in such a great online panel. Coming from the VR industry, we are seeing many diversity issues begin to appear similar to the tech world. It’s important that we identify it now and start to do something about it. Let’s start the conversation”.

Gemma Wooden, Senior Associate, EIP

“As we touched upon during the discussion, I think it’s absolutely key to engage women and girls (not to mention other less well represented groups) in science and tech at an early stage of their education and careers in the hope of encouraging a greater diversity of viewpoints in fields like AI, which are likely to explode in the near future. Only this way will AI accurately reflect the views and ethics of the population as a whole, rather than the limited section of society that has traditionally dominated tech.”

Karen Livingstone, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Industry Engagement, Eastern Academic Health Science Network

“Ensuring we draw in women and the full range of users to all innovation development is vital to its success. The opportunity for artificial intelligence based systems and wider technological developments are likely to see a growth in their impact in the healthcare sector. Increasing the diversity of perspectives involved in innovation, reflecting the community that our NHS and social care system supports, will be essential for the development of more effective solutions.”

If you’d like to learn more about the CW Diversity & Inclusion project, please email lucy.woods@cambridgewireless.co.uk who will kindly share proposed next steps and ways you can get involved.

When is the next Twitter Panel? Details will be shared very soon! #CWInclusiveInnovation

Resources:

Explore the conversations made during the Twitter panel – search #CWWomen in Twitter or view our Storify

Find out more about IWD: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About