The New York Times recently hosted the New Rules Summit which inspired the article entitled, “From Inclusion to Support: How to Build a Better Workplace”. This piece highlights important conversations and possible solutions on how to move towards a more equitable workplace for women. Many leaders with diverse backgrounds including culture, business, education, and politics came together to further examine women and power in the workplace/workforce. They discussed the countless obstacles working women face and the need for immediate change.
Among the New Summit Rules attendees was Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, an Associate Professor at UCLA in Information Studies and African American Studies. She is best known for her interests and expertise in algorithmic discrimination and technology bias. In fact, Dr. Noble wrote the best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. Much of her work looks at race, gender, culture, and technology and its influence in digital media.
As an expert in her field, Dr. Noble contributed to the conversation around how artificial intelligence (A.I.) can be biased, hence disregarding women and other underrepresented groups. She stated, “We can’t let the machines overdetermine the future. Human beings must always be in charge of machines, not the machines in charge of the women, the people, the society. That seemed to be a through line in our discussion. The question is: How will the largess or the profits and resources that accrue from increasing automation be redirected back into society to benefit society?” This is a realistic concern to consider. Although, A.I. is groundbreaking work, it is important to understand that the values guiding it remain unbiased and just in order for true, progressive transformation to happen.
Some of the other proposed changes for more equity in the workplace emphasize the necessity to recruit more women workers to hold both senior and junior positions as well as create an environment that is family-friendly and values women. Similarly, focusing on retaining women workers by offering more autonomy, flexibility, and balance as options. Additional suggestions mention child-care services, paid family leave, men as allies, building an empowering office space culture, and disrupting socialized gender roles. The article continues to make very critical points that hopefully we will see implemented sooner than later.