JOSA has conducted a mapping activity of AI entities operating in the MENA region, a research that was funded by the IDRC. The mapping is now available in the form of a website enabling wide dissemination. JOSA’s history in data science is not a short one, we hold regular data science meetups and tech talks for members of the Jordanian tech community, and partake in MENA-wide software engineering conferences as community partners. Early 2020, we ran a six-week data science bootcamp to build women’s capacity in entering the field of data science. The bootcamp sessions themselves were run by female data scientists in Jordan. We also believe in representation, we published interviews with leading female data scientists, and with the support of the A+ Alliance, we convened female experts from the region to speak at a webinar on “Inclusive AI in the MENA.” Soon, we will be spearheading the MENA hub of the feminist AI research network.
Arab states rank lowest worldwide in terms of gender equality, and on multiple fronts including women’s economic and political participation, access to economic opportunities, and digital divide. The region is also home to technology hubs who are building consumer AI products such as conversational agents. There is a huge need to intersect feminist ideologies with the research and development of AI in the region, as soon as possible, so that biases and inequalities that pervade the analog world are not integrated into our technology.