Existing analysis of US think tanks suggests that women are underrepresented among senior staff, leadership, and board members. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Soraya Kamali-Nafar at Women In International Security examined 22 Washington, DC-based think tanks working on foreign policy and national and international security, and they found that 68 percent of the heads of the think tanks were men, along with 73 percent of the experts and 78 percent of those on governing boards. In 2018, a random sampling of 10 leading US think tanks working on development by Charles Kenny and Tanvi Jaluka suggested that women made up 30 percent of high-paid employees and 10 percent of highest-paid employees, and that higher-paid women earned only 75 percent that of higher-paid men.
Now that computers are capable of taking the jobs that require brain as well as brawn, it may appear there is little left for humans to do. But there are reasons to doubt the pessimism. This note reviews some of the literature around AI, automation, jobs, and development prospects with a focus on potential implications for developing countries and in particular for Africa.
The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development oversees an aid-financed R&D budget that is larger than that of the next 15 biggest donors combined. At the moment, a considerable proportion of that UK R&D spend goes towards solving global technological challenges related to neglected tropical diseases including malaria, and a considerable proportion again towards local evaluation of aid-financed development interventions. Much of the rest is somewhat opaquely distributed to British universities for research supposedly related to development.
There is a lot we don’t know about what automation will mean for jobs in the future, including its impact (if any) on gender inequality. This note reviews evidence and forecasts on that question and makes four main points.
Under managing director Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become a champion for gender equality. This note examines how much the IMF’s dialogue with its member countries has changed as a result of the labeling of gender as a "macrocritical" issue. In short, there has been increased attention to the issue as reflected in word counts and discussion of women’s labor force participation, but there is still a long way to go.
The benefits of global trade are numerous and well-documented, but trade channels can still be made more inclusive for women entrepreneurs and wage workers. Incorporating pre-ratification conditions into the trade agreement negotiation process to remove legal barriers against women’s equal participation in the economy (and therefore equal advantages from trade), as well as instituting follow-up enforcement mechanisms, can help to ensure trade benefits women and men more equally going forward.
Just as the evidence suggests that a more gender-inclusive political system may lead to better policies for women and girls and integrating women into corporate boards may mean reaching new consumers, there is a case to be made for increasing women’s presence in developing technology and innovation. Incorporating more women into technology sectors is likely to 1) increase productivity, 2) offers women a source of high-quality jobs, and 3) may have knock-on benefits for female consumers of technology, whose needs are more likely to be taken into account.
Available evidence points to a superior payoff to female migration from gender-unequal countries to more gender-equal countries for the migrant, the sending country, and recipient country alike. This suggests that a policy by relatively gender-equal countries to provide entry preference to female economic migrants from gender-unequal countries would combine development impact and economic self-interest.
At present rates of progress, it will take more than three centuries for the UN to see the same number of women as men in peacekeeping operations, even though evidence suggests that increasing the proportion of women in operations will improve the success rate of peacekeeping missions and reduce levels of sexual misconduct. One method to speed up the march to equality could be financial incentives directed at troop contributing countries. These could significantly increase the proportion of women peacekeepers, potentially for as little as $77 million per year.
Funding the global public good of technology is a useful way for donors to leverage the impact of their aid. Different types of technologies appear to be important to development progress, and to spread, in different ways. ‘Lab coat technologies’ (inventions) spread easily and improve quality of life, ‘process technologies’ (institutions) spread with difficulty and are important to economic growth. For all donor interventions, however, it appears that context matters—the same technology or investment has varied impact in different environments. Donors should take the importance of context on board when designing their technology interventions.
Given the vital importance of child vaccination programs to US national security interests, intelligence-community participation in public health services should be explicitly banned. Doing so might help restore confidence in vaccination programs—benefiting those immunized and the health and security of Americans here at home.