Campaign for advanced discrimination training in schools

Campaign for advanced discrimination training in schools

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Busting Biases started this petition to Department for Education and

The Problem:

Teachers are currently not given unconscious bias training in schools. Yet, studies reveal that girls and minority groups are impacted by stereotypes which erode their self-belief, motivation and intellectual performance by age six. A further study also illustrated that girls and young women feel they hold themselves back due to gender stereotypes, sexism, and anxiety about how they look. The situation is set to get worse too, as a recent study in the journal Science showed that Artificial intelligence, the fastest growing area of technology, perpetuates the stereotypes we unconsciously hold about marginalised groups. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the term for computer systems that think and act like humans and its use is rapidly increasing. It is imperative that teachers become aware of their own unconscious biases and with the use of AI on the increase, help children to spot and override them in technology too. 

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias is where we make snap judgements and assessments about people, especially those who don't look like us. It happens to us all, especially when we are tired or rushed. Plus, we are becoming increasingly reliant on AI to make important decisions for us, such as in recruitment selection. The biases of the individual coders get passed on to AI. Indeed, while humans can counteract their learned behaviours, computers can't. This has resulted in the reinforcement of sexism, racism and other forms of discriminatory outcomes.

The solution:

Experts agree the solution to the problem is humans. To prevent these prejudices being amplified the onus is on us.

The plan:

We are urging the government to make it compulsory for schools to hold an Unconscious Bias Awareness week. To also equip schools with jargon-free free tools to help children and young adults spot and override biases in technology.

About me:

Hi, my name is Ingrid, I am a confidence and communication coach. I also coach women and those from marginalised groups to shatter their inner glass ceiling and remove the obstacles of stereotyping and shaming to express their authentic voices. When I read an article about a new study on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that was published in the journal Science I decided to act. In my quest to get women's voices heard, together with teaching at a Saturday school as well as having to move my son mid-secondary from a school with limited expectations of him (he went on to achieve a string of A*'s and A's in his GCSE's), I have witnessed the silent, yet devasting impact of stereotyping on eroding self-esteem. The article showed that in the fastest growing area of technology, stereotypes held about women and minority groups are being perpetuated at speed. Teachers I have interviewed, however, have never even heard of the term 'unconscious bias' yet children are impacted by stereotypes by age six. 

Experts say, however, "Removing bias or statistical facts about the world will make the machine model less accurate. You can’t easily remove bias, so you have to learn how to work with it. We are self-aware, we can decide to do the right thing instead of the prejudiced option." - Caliskan Princeton University.

Please sign the petition to urge the government to create a compulsory unconscious bias training week in schools, and to provide jargon-free information to help children and young adults spot and override biases in technology.  

How simple is it to make a change?

Research supports the idea that if we simply stop and give ourselves a moment to think, we can make the unconscious, conscious and make more healthy less biased decisions. 

STOP: Slow down your thoughts

THINK: Was it a snap judgment?

RECONSIDER: Your decision

Do you have any examples of what is happening?

+ There were instances where algorithms were only showing highly paid roles and jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to men.  

+ Robot judges were used to shift through 6000 applicants in a beauty contest assessing for facial symmetry and wrinkles. Due to the data it was provided it didn't flag up anyone with dark skin as a winner.

+ Data resulted in over-policing in predominately black areas because of software that was biased against blacks.

There are many, many more. Check out the articles below. 

Stats and facts:

  • An article in the Guardian highlights how just like humans Artificial intelligence can be both sexist and racist. Joanna Bryson, a computer scientist at the University of Bath and a co-author said: “A lot of people are saying this is showing that AI is prejudiced. No. This is showing we’re prejudiced and that AI is learning it."
  • By age 10, due to stereotyping, a quarter of girls feel they need to be perfect
  • Research published in the journal 'Science' demonstrates how biases are replicated in machine learning tools
  • The use of AI is on the increase and predicted to jump from 54% to 63% in three years time. Source: 2017 Global Digital Survey
  • The Gartner market research company forecasts that the era of smart machines will become one of the most disruptive phases in the history of IT.

Useful Articles:

  • The New York Times highlighted a study by Yale University which concluded that "Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills."
  • An article on the BBC's news website highlighted the work done by Joy Buolamwini, a postgraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was unable to carry out her work on face recognition algorithms unless she wore a white mask as it did not recognize her dark skin.
  • New York Times article on a study that raised concerns about high paying jobs not being shown to women in search results.
  • Why diversity programmes fail is highlighted in Harvard Business Review.

Children are the future. Please sign our petition today for a better tomorrow.


Founder of Women With Voices


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