Those who write texts often unconsciously use terms that exclude or offend certain groups of people. To avoid this, a Swiss startup has developed a correction aid that recognizes such terms.
A Swiss startup has adopted inclusive language.
With the Witty autocorrection one should be able to avoid unconscious bias.
Nadia Fischer is co-founder of the company.
That's what it's all about
A Swiss startup wants to make it possible to write more gender equitably.
An automatic spelling correction has been developed for this.
When writing, this checks whether the text contains stereotypical terms.
Then alternatives are suggested that should appeal to as many people as possible.
“In our communication today there are still many stereotypes that exclude or even discriminate against numerous people,” says Nadia Fischer, CEO and co-founder of the Swiss startup Witty. This mostly happens unconsciously, but leads to people being excluded from certain social groups or being insulted.
“The idea came to me and co-founder Lukas Kahwe Smith because we both come from the tech industry and we noticed that the language there is particularly one-sided. Often only the needs of certain social groups are taken into account. ” Therefore, the two founders got together and developed a concept, the aim of which was not to change the underrepresented groups, but rather the companies that exclude these groups. “Nowadays we often still use expressions and terms from the 18th century. You can see that for example in job advertisements which, according to studies, mostly appeal to men more than women, ”explains Fischer.
Unconsciously used terms
Therefore, together with Kahwe Smith, she developed the software for Witty, which recognizes expressions that exclude certain groups of people. It marks such expressions in the analyzed text in real time and also suggests alternatives that could be used. Behind this is an artificial intelligence that has learned to interpret the texts using computational linguistics. The dimensions that are taken into account are ethnic background, skin color, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, age, socio-economic differences, religious beliefs, education and culture.
“Most of the time, exclusive or insulting terms are not used on purpose, but rather unconsciously. If you talk about a blacklist and a whitelist in a company, for example, you are probably not aware that there are racist origins behind them, which ascribe the colors black and white to something bad or something good, ”explains Fischer.
Of course there are also people who do not like Witty's work. “With every social change there is a headwind, that was already the case with digitization,” says Fischer, however, not discouraged. For the most part, she has had very positive experiences with companies and customers.
Various studies have shown that diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation and higher economic performance, says Fischer. “The more inclusive a text is, the more people feel addressed.” Witty can be installed in the internet browser. Use in German and English is free of charge for private individuals. The startup recently completed its first financing round of EUR 700,000. The company wants to expand to Germany and Austria.
Will you or become someone you know , because of de r gender identity discriminated?
You can find help here:
Equal Opportunities Offices by Region
Equal Pay Platform
Gleichstellungsgesetz.ch, database of cases from German-speaking cantons
Federal Office for Equality between Women and Men
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