After discovering that only 21 percent of the sources quoted in its articles were women, The Financial Times has developed a bot that aims to nudge its writers to seek out more women experts. Using pronouns and analysis of first names to determine the gender of sources, the bot then alerts section editors if they’re featuring too few women in their stories. In the future, textual analysis may warn reporters even as they are typing their stories.
The newspaper, which covers a lot of of male-dominated industries, is keen to attract more women readers. In addition to including more female voices in its pages and online, a second experiment aims to ensure more images of women are used to accompany articles. “Desks that use quotes from a high proportion of women also feature more women in their pictures, and their articles are well read by women,” the deputy editor, Roula Khalaf, told staff in an internal email, adding that women are more often included in stories about the the national health service, U.S. immigration, and E.U. tech regulation, but less often in stories about U.S. trade, the oil industry and banking.
The initiative has been generally warmly received, but with some detractors, who took to Twitter to voice their concerns, lamenting the need for “tech solutions to the problem of ‘not really seeing women as experts or indeed people.’”
I’m often found warning about discriminatory algorithms. Now the @FT has developed a bot to warn journalists if their articles quote too many men. Nice development, this. #AI #equality https://t.co/qyV74Nv1ro
— Schona Jolly QC (@WomaninHavana) November 15, 2018
In case you missed it, here's a case of bots doing good: "Financial Times tool warns if articles quote too many men" https://t.co/dWyRa3uert
One reason they're doing it? To attract more women readers.
— Carin Zissis (@CarinZissis) November 20, 2018
Best bot in a while! But it's still up to the humans to drive actual change. https://t.co/C0Jmr9yVbz
— Julia Kloiber (@j_kloiber) November 14, 2018
I know this is probably a good thing, but I find the search for tech solutions to the problem of ‘not really seeing women as experts or indeed people’ a little bit tedious. https://t.co/7CCksCCmJM
— Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley (@lottelydia) November 14, 2018
Is it good or depressing that we need a bot to tell journalists if they are quoting too many men? I'm looking forward to the day that women are valued as experts in their field just as highly as men…https://t.co/fn1863SsZT
— Ilena Paltzer (@IlenaPaltzer) November 19, 2018
On one hand… cool?
On the other… wtf do we need a bot to tell journalists they're ignoring women voices?
— Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone) November 15, 2018
Read the full story at The Guardian.