IMPACT EdTech: tackling gender inequality in education

While the past few decades have seen an improvement in the treatment of females in classroom methods and curricular materials, young girls still refrain from taking up an education in STEM fields because of reasons like lack of inspiration and role models, which is having a great impact in the presence of women in digital world.

Technology-Enhanced Learning can be a vehicle for a greater gender equality in education, increasing their access to learning opportunities. However, that does not mean that TEL is gender neutral. Although it's commonly accepted that online learning has had a great positive impact in opening new learning opportunities for women, a recent study published by Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis suggests the existence of gender bias in online course discussions, as contributions posted by male students are more likely to receive feedback by instructors. Similarly, developers of AI-powered solutions must be aware of the risks of creating gender-biased solutions when transferring gender stereotypes to our virtual assistants (helpful women and reliable men) or feeding machine learning algorithms with gender-biased data, for example. If that happens, AI solutions, instead of becoming a vehicle for social change, will consolidate biases that are currently widespread in our society.

The conclusion of this is inclusive digital learning must be personalised to tackle the particular requirements of each student. And, being the mainstream learning tools designed from a male's perspective, incorporating personalised learning that takes into account the female perspective is a must.

IMPACT EdTech will establish a start-up incubator-accelerator to support up to 42 promising EdTech prototypes from digital learning disruptors in the process of validating and testing their educational solutions in close collaboration with business and education mentorship and expertise with the aim of preparing promising solutions to reach the market.

The project, coordinated by European Schoolnet with complementary expertise of FundingBox and ISDI, will consider gender issues by directly targeting female learning under some of the supported projects, and making sure there is no gender bias in the proposed solutions.

Furthermore, female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are under-exploited: while women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of self-employed workforce and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. That is why IMPACT EdTech will contribute to greater understanding of the demographics of individuals and organisations engaged in the Open Calls.

The first IMPACT EdTech Open Call will start on 6thApril 2020, so stay tuned to apply and join the programme to get up to €195K equity free funding, and benefit from business and educational mentoring and training services.