It is imperative that we start encouraging women in AI and here’s why: The gender disparity in AI and data science is 78 percent male, compared with women at 22 percent, based on a study by the World Economic Forum. This challenge goes far beyond the confines of the workforce. With the rise and utilization of AI in almost every industry, this gender disparity may have highly negative implications for society.
Educators now understand that children need to be introduced to STEM subjects as early as possible to create a lifelong interest in it. STEM programs are specifically encouraging girls and women to become interested in STEM and address gaps in digital skills at an earlier age than in the past. The problem is that there appears to be less effort to support women as they transition from higher education into a sustainable career in tech. However, the real problem is that as AI becomes interwoven in daily life, without a technology workforce that accurately reflects the structure of society, AI-based decisions are constrained by the limited societal and cultural biases of their designers. The impact of such homogeneity in AI decisions and bias has already been seen in examples such as the automation of credit card and mortgage applications, to resume screening and other areas.
From Deloitte’s Women in AI article, “Because of the need for AI teams to reflect the populations they intend to address, and given that half of the world’s population is female, as AWS’ Allie Miller (Global Head of Machine Learning Business Development, Startups and Venture Capital) put it, having more gender diversity within AI is a matter of “common sense.”
Today there are great organizations, such as The MindSpore Women in Tech Community that emphasizes seminar-like gatherings and provide women a safe space to discuss the challenges they face in the workplace. Mentoring is critical to seeing more women take leadership roles in AI and data science.
But encouraging women isn’t simply about creating diversity within the industry to enable greater gender balance. The benefits stretch beyond the sector and into the societal benefits. With the digitalization of many traditional sectors, the pervasive nature of AI demands that it not only provides efficiency but is also inclusive. It is only by broadening the pool of talent that we can avoid data-led decisions skewed by bias. Establishing communities that actively foster participation and diverse voices is an important step.
Bias in AI starts with the initial formulation of problems. The questions are naturally constrained by the experiences of the designers and programmers. This in turn impacts the quality of the data and the way it is handled. So what will be the societal impact if there is not greater diversity?
So in conclusion, now that our lives are digitally-driven, we must ensure that women can enjoy the benefit of technology for generations to come rather than be negatively impacted.
UnKommon Revolution started a foundation to assist women in having a voice in AI and Data Science. If you are interested or know a rising star, please DM us on social or email info@UnKommonRevolution.com.