Gender inequalities, ForumDD: “We need to have strategies to reduce stereotypes”

Gender inequalities ForumDD We need to have strategies to reduce

(Finance) – An ISTAT survey, conducted in 2018 with the Equal Opportunities Department, found that 59% of the Italian population aged 18-74, with no particular differences between men and women, found themselves (much or quite) agree with at least one of the following statements: “for men, more than for women, it is very important to be successful at work”; “men are less fit to do household chores”; “it is the man who has to provide for the economic needs of the family”. 22% strongly agreed. Given these data and the persistence of gender stereotypes, it is evident that their knowledge and analysis are essential for identifying the cultural, historical, economic and social roots that prevent full equality between men and women and for evaluating the actions and policies needed to counter them. These are the considerations at the heart of theevent “At the roots of gender inequalities: the role of stereotypes in transitions” held today at the Sala del Parlamentino INAIL, in Rome, as part of the ASviS Sustainable Development Festival which will end tomorrow at the Chamber of Deputies.

During the event, organized by the Goal 1 and 10 working group and the Inequality and Diversity Forum with the collaboration of the Goal 5 working group, gender stereotypes were addressed, highlighting both their pervasiveness and the possibility of counter them with collective action and public policy. Attended, among others, Linda Laura Sabbadini, director of the Department for the development of methods and technologies for the production and dissemination of Istat statistical information; Pierluigi Stefanini, ASviS president; Ersilia Vaudo, chief diversity officer European Space Agency; Celeste Constantine, former deputy and coordinator of the Observatory for gender equality of the ministry of culture.

Gender stereotypes in education – The role of education and training starting from kindergarten is strategic. Also following the indications of the 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women – also ratified by Italy – a comprehensive law proposal takes on importance to promote accompaniment paths in the various stages of training from 3 to 18 years that stimulate in girls and boys, in girls and boys, the ability to reflect on affectivity, relationships, feelings of equality, respect and acceptance. It has been highlighted how the contrast to gender stereotypes requires attention to the language and representation of genders in textbooks, where men still carry out many professions, while women are too often teachers or caregivers. To this end, it is necessary to monitor that textbooks are adopted that comply with the indications contained in the Polite self-regulation code (Equal opportunities in textbooks) and to promote training and continuous updating for the entire teaching staff. Still great attention must be paid to the media and advertising. Finally, in Italy, although there are 33.3% female graduates in the 30-34 age group compared to 20.4% among men, the female advantage in education does not, however, translate into an advantage on the labor market: the the female employment rate is 19 percentage points lower than the male one and there is still a low rate of women graduates in STEM disciplines (men with STEM graduates are 33.7% of the total, women only 17.6% %), and gender differences in standardized school tests concerning 15-year-olds and mathematics (OECD-PISA test: average score difference between boys and girls in mathematics is 16 points in Italy against 5 points in OECD countries). In the results in mathematics and science, gender gaps often merge with territorial and socio-economic ones: the lowest scores for female students are found in Sicily, Sardinia, Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia. The PNRR identifies one of the axes of the process for equality precisely in the strengthening of the teaching of STEM subjects in the various school cycles. Investments that will be essential to monitor in the coming years. At the same time, educational segregation was also recalled for men. There are too few who decide to train in care and educational roles, and this is then reflected in the low number of male teachers in schools: Italy is the most feminised school in Europe.

Data, algorithms, and the fight against stereotypes – The world of the web and artificial intelligence is the mirror of society, with the risk of reflecting, perpetuating and even amplifying existing stereotypes and social inequalities. Algorithms feed on data and in the collection and selection process many stereotypes and biases can be hidden in recruitment processes, medical diagnostics, search engines. Furthermore, in new generative AI models such as ChatGpt4, the algorithm can capture and reproduce existing categorizations in the data, then repeatedly reinforced by their reiteration. There are at least three solutions identified and directions to work on. The first consists in raising user awareness and is linked to transparency and the strengthening of controls. The second involves those responsible for creating and developing the algorithms. Finally, the third is regulation. As far as user awareness is concerned, greater transparency on the data source, parameters and criteria on the basis of which an algorithm provides an answer can promote a more aware approach but above all develop critical skills on the part of users. Awareness campaigns should inform the public about the capabilities but also the limitations and potential biases of Artificial Intelligence systems. At the same time, it would be necessary to strengthen the tools available to the supervisory authorities or universities and research centres. Common methodologies should be promoted to monitor bias and to design standards on which to test and develop algorithms and, prior to these, to evaluate the quality of the datasets from which systems “learn and train”. On the second aspect, the starting point is the increase in the presence of women in the working groups that design, train or monitor data processing models and algorithms, starting from education and training, and thinking about a regulation for large companies operating in the AI ​​industry to ensure that algorithm development groups are as diverse as possible and that the people developing the technologies come from different backgrounds so that diversity is taken into account. Finally, actively engaging relevant stakeholders, such as gender equality organizations and end-users – integrating their feedback – can help ensure a broader and more inclusive perspective. Finally, the issue of rules to make the development and use of artificial intelligence more transparent, fair and inclusive. In April 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Regulation on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) with the aim of promoting safe and ethical artificial intelligence systems, classifying technologies according to the risks they pose for human rights fundamental. After months of negotiations, in mid-June the European Parliament will approve a legislative proposal aimed at regulating Artificial Intelligence, providing for a series of obligations for producers, transparency requirements and sanctions. However, the impact of this Regulation will depend on its implementation and how it will interact/adapt with the evolution of technologies and the emergence of new risks.

Environmental justice and the fight against gender stereotypes – The impact of climate change is not the same for men and women. The latter represent 70% of the world’s poor (1.3 billion people) and depend to a greater extent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Women suffer more from water scarcity, land depletion, pollution and extreme climatic phenomena, which can lead, especially in developing countries, to more acute deterioration of mental health, to be subjected to domestic violence and to have less food security. Globally, 80% of people displaced by environmental disasters are women. During the conference, the analogy between the body of women and the ecosystem was recalled, both of which are placed outside the world of power and decisions. This is why it is important to adopt a systemic approach to resolve a systemic crisis as recalled by the many eco-feminist leaders and climate activists, who at all latitudes are fighting for environmental and social justice, reaffirming the need to consider struggles in a intersectional and helping to include the voiceless, and those most affected by the consequences of climate change. To be able to do all this we need disaggregated data and analyzes on the impacts of climate change on gender and an integration of the gender key in all environmental policies as foreseen by the Gender Action Plan of the COP; social participation and dialogue, and monitoring of results; increased female political representation that is being studied may facilitate the adoption of tougher climate change policies; accompanying and strengthening green innovations, the circular economy and energy communities that are often led by women.

Gender stereotypes in the third half of life – The way people age depends a lot on the life they lead and women often arrive at the third time of their life in worse health conditions, also due to the large amount of work, including care, they have done. Faced with the growing number of elderly men and women – the latest ISTAT census tells us that the over 65s represent 23.5% of the total and by 2050 this percentage could reach 34.9% of the total – assistance to this segment of the population is therefore a social priority involving millions of families. And of women: they are the ones who provide family assistance to the elderly in our country and in the RSA the prevalence of women is large, both among the guests of the structures and among the operators.