How to Ethically and Responsibly Identify Gender in Large Datasets


/ December 9, 2014

J. Nathan Mathias at the MIT Symposium on Gender and Technology has prepared a practical guide to methods of identifying gender in large datasets and the ethical considerations that accompany them. The guide, which has a wealth of useful links and resources, is here.

Quantitative analyses that occur without the knowledge or consent of people involve a very serious power and voice imbalance that should not be done without careful thought and consultation. A good rule of thumb, from Sunil Abraham, is that the greater the power of a person, the greater transparency is acceptable.

Lego gender

Photo credit: Rupert Ganzer under a CC-BY-ND 2.0 licence.
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About the contributor

Tom started out writing and editing for newspapers, consultancies and think tanks on topics including politics and corruption in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, then moved into designing and managing election-related projects in countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Bolivia. After getting interested in what data and technology could add in those areas and elsewhere, he made a beeline for The Engine Room. Tom is trying to read all of the Internet, but mostly spends his time picking out useful resources and trends for organisations using technology in their work.

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