Where Are All The Women in AI?

Why we need women in AI and how creating more gender balance in this fast-growing field will benefit your organization

In December 2023, an eye-opening article by The New York Times highlighted the pioneers of the modern AI movement, but something critical was missing – the representation of women.   

Notably, top women in AI like Dr Fei-Fei Li, one of Stanford University’s most influential tech and AI professors, were absent, a stark reminder of the gender gap in this fast-growing space.  

The issue goes beyond just a list, though. The data reveals a concerning trend: in 2021, only 21.3% of AI Ph.D. graduates in North America were women, and women hold less than a third of AI roles in US tech companies. 

This isn’t just about numbers; it’s about the diverse perspectives and ideas we’re missing in one of the most influential fields of our time.  

According to Hanna Helin, Global Head of Technology Innovation, CTO Office at London Stock Exchange Group, AI is resetting the market. Organizations are actively reviewing how they can leverage cutting edge AI capabilities to improve efficiency or launch new market solutions. At the same time there is a lack of diversity.

Some even say it could be the last technology humans ever invent.

Having spent over 16 years in senior technology and business leadership positions, Hanna has had the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies, including Cloud, Big Data and now AI. She says: “It’s important that we take a step back and get transparency around who is creating AI and large language models. It’s crucial that developers come from different backgrounds and perspectives to accurately reflect our society.” 

“It’s important to be aware of unconscious bias. What does a coder in Silicon Valley or a leader look like? With AI there is a huge opportunity for new audiences and innovators to be heard in an inclusive way and it’s important to provide new opportunities to broaden access to our field.”

The problem isn’t just about creating a fair workplace, though. AI is set to spark the biggest global change since the internet. Some even say it could be the last technology humans ever invent.  

“AI should reflect people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and genders,” says Hanna. “As a society, we’re exploring approaches that we can take to move the gender needle, but we need to push harder to before it’s too late.”

Creating Opportunities for Women in AI

Hanna shares three practical steps organizations can take towards gender diversity in the AI sphere. She says, “To improve equality in AI within enterprises we also need to build leadership capability with a focus on core diversity programs – AI & Diversity needs to go hand in hand.”

Redefine AI Narratives

We need to shift the discourse around AI to be more inclusive and accessible. Let’s demystify AI and make its concepts understandable for everyone, not just the tech-savvy. 

Revamp Hiring Practices

Audit our hiring processes. Are we inadvertently excluding potential talent with our current practices? It’s crucial to create pathways for those traditionally sidelined in AI to bring their unique skills and perspectives.

Invest in Diverse AI Training

Offer extensive AI training and support, making room in our schedules for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Tailoring this training to a diverse audience will help bring more voices to the table.

 

We all have a voice in this. It’s time to step forward and take up space in this new and exciting world. What will you do today to bring your voice to the table? 

Thanks to our Guest Contributor:

Hanna Helin

Global Head of Technology Innovation, CTO Office at London Stock Exchange Group

Hanna is also a WeQual Executive and Winner in the WeQual Awards, EMEA 2023 in the Technology category.

Join our global, expert-led event on April 18 for a bird’s eye view of the industry from senior women leaders who have made it to the top.

The AI Challenge: Expert Perspectives from Global Tech Leaders is a deep dive into the world of AI with WeQual Award Winners Christina Montgomery, IBM’s Chief Privacy & Trust Officer, Vrinda Menon, Global Head of Operations & Client Services Technology at J.P. Morgan and Hanna Helin, Global Head of Technology Innovation CTO Office at LSEG.

Discover strategic AI insights, innovative examples, and future trends, including fostering the development of women in STEM careers.

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