Using Big Data for Measuring Global Gender Inequality
Posted: 26 Oct 2018

Gaps in geographical coverage and infrequent production of gender-disaggregated data limit our ability to measure and monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. With support through a ‘Big Data for Gender Challenge’ Award from the Data2X, an initiative of the UN Foundation, a project led by Ridhi Kashyap in the Department of Sociology in collaboration with the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has been exploring how big data innovations can help with measuring and ‘nowcasting’ global gender inequalities.

Drawing on her work in this area, Dr Kashyap spoke on a panel “Big data and the global gender gap: the promise and perils of digital information” at the United Nations’ 2nd World Data Forum (WDF) in Dubai. The Forum brings together international experts to intensify cooperation on harnessing the data revolution for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals.

Kashyap and her QCRI collaborator Ingmar Weber will also be launching the Digital Gender Gaps website at the UN WDF. The web portal provides real-time indicators or ‘nowcasts’ of gender gaps in internet and mobile access by leveraging a unique form of big data – ad audience estimates that provide a digital aggregate census of users of social media platforms, usually available to advertisers – in combination with development statistics.

Gender equality in internet and mobile phone use, and improving digital literacy are important targets within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This is an example of a development indicator however for which a significant data gap exists, as surveys or population-level data sources that examine digital inequalities are lacking. Big data innovations have the potential to address this gap and the Digital Gender Gaps website shows how this can be done.

Latest reports of internet gender gap indicators are available from the website:

Ridhi Kashyap is Associate Professor of Social Demography