I, fembot

Newspaper develops surprising tool to overcome sexism in reporting

A woman sleeps on a train as a man reads the Financial Times newspaper in London, Britain August 4, 2017. (REUTERS/Kevin Coombs)

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.’”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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