Women Thrive When Given Equal Opportunities with Men - UEW Pro-Vice-Chancellor
Prof. Andy Ofori-Birikorang, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), has stressed the significance of providing women with equal access and opportunities in all spheres of life.
He opined that when women are in positions of leadership, they advance society more than men because they uphold better moral standards.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor made these remarks at a two-day seminar organised by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UEW, in collaboration with the UEW Chapter of the Graduate Students’ Association of Ghana (GRASAG-UEW), to mark the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration. He was addressing participants on the topic of “bridging the gender gap through technological advancement and digitalisation.”
"In this world, you need digital skills to be in business, as our daily lives are all encapsulated in the digital world. Studies have shown that the gender gap is widening relative to access to technology and digital inclusion. Every time something new comes up, men rush to learn and women stay behind. Women have become laggards when it comes to technology and digital acquisition. Women have not become visible in the digital era. They remain marginalised, and we must examine this critically," he said.
Prof. Ofori-Birikorang underscored the need for women to be technologically savvy because studies have shown that businesses that have engaged women in their technology and digital environments as well as decision-making have seen higher revenues overall.
"Women can be in technology if provided with the necessary mechanisms for them to be there. We must create supportive policies and training for women in technology and digilisation. If we don’t consciously, intentionally bring women together and train them, it will affect our economy," he averred.
The gender advocate entreated women to create virtual hangout platforms with mentors and mentees to enable them to share thoughts on achieving equality.
He urged women to be independent-minded and concentrate on ways they could use technology to rebel against the dominant culture rather than imitating males when they found themselves in male-dominated situations. He advised women to enlist men as allies in their negotiations since they are more powerful.
Prof. Ofori-Birikorang highlighted gender equality in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He said that AI poses a significant threat to gender equality due to the built-in biases found in the device’s data set. He encouraged women to read more about AI and use it as a tool of empowerment. He revealed that AI has the potential to make positive changes in society by changing oppressive norms and ensuring gender equality.
The Ag. Director of the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, Dr. Obaapanin Oforiwaa Adu, pointed out that the UEW observes IWD to demonstrate its commitment to advancing gender equality and social inclusion in its educational delivery.
Dr. Obaapanin Adu emphasised the significance to incorporate women’s participation right from conception through the implementation of artificial intelligence in educational delivery, such as the creation of future classrooms.
“The results of an effective Artificial Intelligent system can only be as good as the input data, and if data doesn’t capture the contributions of women in STEM, politics, medicine, and all other fields where women tend to be ignored, we jeopardise the creation of a fair Artificial Intelligent system that sets the blueprint for future generations.
“In the world of Robotics, female robots tend to perform jobs that have traditionally been associated with women. For example, many such female robots are designed to function as maids, personal assistants, check-out cashiers, or museum guides. In the future, women may eventually even struggle to find suitable jobs if the gender divide in technology and digitalisation continues to stay unbridged,” she noted.
She acknowledged the AI system's strength but expressed concern over its limited understanding of the contributions made by women and African civilisations throughout human history.
She called for the inclusion of the gender diversity factor in all stages, from the conceptualisation of ideas to the collection of data, the modelling, the development of socially-beneficial use cases, and the humane deployment of AI to widen the diversity in the cognitive pool.
The two-day seminar, which took place at the North Campus Mini-Conference Room from Wednesday, 8th to Thursday, 9th March, 2023, was chaired by the Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement, Prof. Lucy Effeh Attom. Participants were treated to presentations on: "protecting the rights of women and girls in the digital space; leveraging technology to promote gender equality and equity; becoming a confident and compelling public speaker; and wardrobe selection for different occasions".
Resource persons were Dr. Ephrem Kwaa-Aidoo, Dr. (Mrs.) Patricia Ananga, Dr. Mavis Amo-Mensah, Ms. Jaqueline Ogoe and Ms. Mercy Ampofowah Osei. Also present were the Deputy Registrar of the Division of Human Resource, Mrs. Deborah Afful; the Head, Department of Communication Instruction, Prof. Christiana Hammond; and the GRASAG-UEW Gender Commissioner, Ms. Victoria Akolbila..