The joint research undertaken by Dr Ingmar Weber of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), along with scientists from Oxford and Princeton universities, won a Data2X Big Data for Gender Challenge Award from the United Nations Foundation.
The winners of the awards were officially announced during an event at the UN General Assembly recently.
The research, Using Facebook Ad Data to Track the Global Digital Gender Gap, uses Facebook advertising data to identify countries with gender gaps in the internet and mobile phone access in real time around the world. The technology then combines the Facebook data with offline statistics in areas such as Gross Domestic Product data or literacy rates, to make more accurate predictions about the number of females using the internet, compared to males.
The award includes a US $50,000 grant, which is to be used to develop an automatically updating system to monitor gender gaps, in collaboration with Oxford University.
Dr Weber said the award was important as the grant would enable future research into improving the measures of data that could impact the empowerment of women. Achieving gender equality is among UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Weber and his colleagues found that internet access is almost equal for men and women in Qatar with a ratio of 0.982, where 1.0 is equal access for both genders. (More than 90% of people living in Qatar have a Facebook account.) In comparison, the United States has a slightly higher ratio of 0.997. Gender gap ratios are similar to known ‘ground truths’ in both countries.
However, the researchers were also able to use Facebook data to predict gender gap ratios in countries where there is no existing data. They found that Rwanda, for instance, where there are no previous statistics, has a ratio of 0.671.
In order to track the impact of policy, it is important to measure the data as accurately as possible and hopefully we could help see progress in certain countries if they are able to create new, data-driven policies.’
Dr Weber’s project is a joint work with Ridhi Kashyap, a professorial fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University and Masoomali Fatehkia, a student in Operations Research at Princeton University.
For more information, visit the QCRI website at qcri.org.qa.