International Women’s Day, predictions, and everyday sexism #InternationalWomensDay

Earlier this morning I was wondering how I could frame a post for today, international women’s day when technology very handily provided the answer.

Whilst having breakfast this morning I was reading a really insightful post for Anne-Marie Scott about the contradictions of venue and intention of event:

It is a strange experience to be at a conference where there is highly visible and vocal leadership emphasising the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and recognition of the importance of International Women’s Day from panelists and from the President of SoLAR (Stephanie Teasley), yet be confronted visibly with the signs and symbols of structural exclusion whilst I drink my conference coffee.

At the same time I was half listening to the Today programme which was peppered with references to international women’s day.  I really wanted to share Anne- Marie’s post so I quickly went on to twitter and as I was typing in the hashtag I was astonished that after #inter – the first choice that was handily suggested to me was International Men’s Day ( you can tell it was early in the morning from my nonsensical text!)

Seriously, WTF twitter, predictive text!   If this isn’t a sign of inherent bias and everyday sexism I really don’t know what is.

Again this is why I am so wary of predictions of AI too. Surely any “intelligent” system should have been programmed or have learned that today is international women’s day. At the very least Twitter should  be running some sort of algorithm to ensure today, even just for one day, days women came before men in their handy, predictive hashtag lists. But of course, that depends on how and by who develops the algorithms that train the AI,  and what priorities and biases are programmed into them.

Everyday sexism permeates everywhere.  For too long every day has been international mans day.  It’s too easy to laugh an incident like this off and say “oh how predictable for predictive text”. Its time these insidious “little” things stopped.