Data capital: access and equality firmly on the agenda


How to exploit data for the benefit of all? This is the theme of the data 2022 conference organized by The Scottish in collaboration with the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative.

Data for Diversity will explore how data and artificial intelligence can be deployed effectively to deliver greater inclusion, equality and diversity.

Four panels will present very practical examples – including how data can support more diverse health outcomes and help create a fairer financial future.

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The first session, Using data and AI to shine a light on inequality and bias, will be launched by Francesca Lawson and Ali Fensome, co-founders of Paygapapp.

The app was rolled out on International Women’s Day 2022 to respond to social media posts from organizations about their diversity credentials – using an algorithm to highlight the pay of women in those organizations.

Lawson explains why she and Fensome created the app: “I want to make sure social media is an honest place, not just a place where businesses and corporations can hide behind a smokescreen.”

The keynote speakers for the event are Renata Avila and Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer, two luminaries in deploying data to combat bias in society.

Dr. Stefflbauer, an American academic and Germany-based tech professional, will discuss her efforts to combat bias in recruitment in general – and in the tech sector, through her work with social enterprise Frauenloop.

She’s driven to make “the tech industry live up to what it’s meant to be.” In an interview in The Scotsman data supplement, she said: “This ability to transform society is what drove me to work in technology. It’s about tackling issues of inequality and access.

Speaking of algorithmic bias, she said, “What scares me the most is that when I talk to headhunters and recruiters, they don’t know how these algorithmic rankings work. Recruiters just assume, like c It’s usually the case with algorithms, that the recommendations are magically coming from computers that have a lot of data. If he says those are the best candidates, they’re the best candidates.

Lawyer, author and lawyer Renata Ávila will also bring a powerful message about how data can empower people and improve equality. The CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation also co-founded the A+ Alliance, to address the historical exclusion of women from technology and data systems.

In an interview with the DDI initiative, Avila said, “The whole way algorithms are created and the datasets that feed them must shift priorities from reactive to proactive, throughout the cycle. From design to deployment and evaluation of AI systems, we should explore how to serve people better, and serving better means taking action to massively reduce and even eradicate all gender inequalities in our public digital systems. .

Jarmo Eskelinen, executive director of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, created as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, said: “Data is a hugely powerful tool for solving issues of diversity, equality and of inclusion – but data is not knowledge. This requires human interpretation. This event aims to highlight how powerful it can be – to challenge institutionalized biases, deliver more inclusive health outcomes, create a financial future fairer and much more.

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“I am thrilled to hear from leading thinkers like Renata Avila and Nakeema Stefflbauer and shine a light on specific examples of the vital role data plays in building a more diverse, equal and inclusive society.”

The health roundtable features Manira Ahmad, Chief Office of Public Health Scotland, and Roger Halliday, chief executive of the newly established Research Data Scotland, set up to ‘promote and advance health and social wellbeing in Scotland by enabling access to public sector data on people, places and businesses for research in the public good”.

The session also includes contributions from Pooja Jain, founder of the dementia app CogniHealth and Sarah Stock, professor of maternal and fetal health at the University of Edinburgh.

Nicola Anderson, chief executive of FinTech Scotland, will chair the session on data for a fairer financial world, with panelists Dame Julia Unwin, chair of Smart Data Foundry and former CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Other panelists are Deborah Womack, partner at EY, and David Goodbrand, partner and data expert at Burness Paull.

The final session of the day focuses on how we build a diverse workforce and features data worker Ixone Saenz Paraiso, describing her challenge doing a data degree through sign language – and her work in the creation of a glossary of terms to help deaf people better access the world of data. Claire Gillespie from Skills Development Scotland will also participate in the session.

Data for Diversity is an in-person event taking place at the South Hall Complex, University of Edinburgh on Thursday 29 September, 9am-4pm. View the full agenda and book here as a delegate in person or online: www.scotsmandataconference.co.uk

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