Diplomats, engineers and robotics experts from around the world are currently gathered at the United Nations in Geneva to debate whether lethal drones should be banned from warfare. And of the 18 experts presenting their views during the four-day conference, not a single one is female.
"Clearly this is not ideal," writes Meghan Neal at Motherboard, adding that it's also not terribly surprising given that the fields represented at the conference are notoriously male-dominated.
The lack of representation is particularly unsettling when security, peace, and disarmament are the issues on the table. Legalizing lethal robots would elevate the ease of killing to an unprecedented level—it's not a decision you want to leave half the world's population out of.
"Somehow it implies that women are not capable of being seriously involved in creating our own security in a secure world," Nobel Laureate Jody Williams told me in a phone call from Geneva, where the first UN debate on the fate of killer robots is underway. "To be blunt, I find it f**king offensive."
Williams is one of two speakers to point out the gender disparity to the delegation of 50 governments on opening day yesterday—the other being the representative from Norway. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for spearheading the successful effort to ban land mines, and is now chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative and a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots....
So what to do about it? [Simply] pointing out the lack of diversity at the conference—ethnic diversity, too—is a start. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has also compiled a list of female experts on lethal robots to make it easier for the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons to include a more gender-balanced perspective next time around.
"Just keep nipping at their heels," Williams said. "Peacefully, of course."