Melinda Gates: How big data can be sexist, impede on closing the gender gap

There is a gender gap when it comes to big data, and it is prohibiting certain industries, particularly global health and development, from achieving gender equality, suggests Melinda Gates in a LinkedIn post.

"The hard reality is that in too many areas, data doesn't exist," Ms. Gates writes. "What's more — even where it does exist, it's often sexist. It misses women and girls entirely, or undercounts and undervalues their economic and social contributions to their families, communities and countries."

She writes information like when and where girls are born, how many hours they work, if and what they are paid and how they die is not regularly recorded.

This big data gender gap plays out in two important ways, according to Ms. Gates.

First, she writes, it is difficult to even advance gender equality if there is little or limited information on women and girls. Second, inherent in these data gaps is the idea that women and girls don't matter, Ms. Gates writes.

"With a better understanding of the way women live their lives, and the specific inequalities, indignities, and injustices that hold them back every day, we can see what needs fixing, whether solutions are working, and what progress is being made. That's because gathering and analyzing data makes the invisible, visible," writes Ms. Gates. "Closing the gender gap requires closing the data gap."

More articles on equality:

Record number of hospitals earned LGBT healthcare equality designation this year 
How Project Include is working to attract more women, diversity to tech 
Why America's corporate gender gap isn't improving: 9 findings on gender disparity and how leaders can bridge the divide 

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