Women Leadership in AI Across Industries

The movement to include more women in STEM has transformed into also helping more women lead in STEM and AI matters

Increasing the representation of women leadership in AI roles takes more than just recruiting efforts—it starts with fostering an inclusive culture and improving access and opportunity for growth and advancement.

The world’s most customer-focused companies understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are business imperatives for success. Companies understand that they are better served by building and maintaining diverse teams that reflect the broad diversity of their customers and our communities.

Our diverse perspectives help us to think bigger, and differently, about the products and services we offer and the day-to-day nature of our workplace. Now more than ever, companies are evaluating and implementing new DEI strategies. They realize that to grow and succeed as organizations and leaders, they need to be bolder, challenge orthodoxies and inspire change. And it has to deliberate in order for companies to see sustained progress.

It illuminates ways to do that and it goes far beyond traditional recruiting. It starts with cultivating dreams. Early STEM education shows young women and girls how AI roles can impact their life trajectory. It takes real, active mentorship that’s organic and promotes curiosity. And it’s crucial that women help trailblaze the pathways for girls, build relationships with them early, and help them become women leadership in AI that organizations can then champion, retain and promote.

Here are some women blazing the trail in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics: –

 1. Rana el Kaliouby: Creating Emotionally Intelligent AI:

She’s the co-founder and CEO of Affectiva , a software company using AI technology to detect emotions through face and voice. The worldwide market for emotion detection and recognition is expected to reach billion by 2020. She led the development of Affectiva’s emotion for women leadership in AI technology, which employs computer vision, deep learning, machine learning and speech processing to recognize emotions from vast amounts of facial data. Before starting Affectiva, el Kaliouby worked as a research scientist at MIT Media Lab. She earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge and her post-doctorate at MIT. She’s part of Fortune Magazine’s 2018 40 Under 40 list as well as Forbes’ 2018 list of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech and is also a 2018 Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum.

2. Fei-Fei Li: Developing Human-Centered in AI:

Li is one of the brilliant minds and encouraging women leadership in AI. She’s currently a professor at Stanford University’s Computer Science Department and co-heads the Stanford Human-Centered AI Institute (HAI), dedicated to advancing AI research and development for the good of humanity. Li also had a brief stint as chief scientist of AI and machine learning at Google Cloud. She advocates for diversity and inclusion in AI as co-founder and chairperson of non-profit organization AI4ALL. Li has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including the 2017 Athena Award for Academic Leadership from University of California’s Women in Technology Initiative, as part of Elle Magazine’s 2017 Women in Tech power list, and as one of Carnegie Foundation’s Great Immigrants of 2016.

3. Cynthia Breazeal: Making Robots More Social:

Breazeal founded and heads the MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots group and works as an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT. As a pioneer in the field of human-robot interaction, Breazeal helped build the now-defunct Jibo, a social robot for the home that uses advanced facial and voice recognition as well as natural language understanding to interact and forge relationships with its human family. She then turned it into a social robotics company with the same name, serving as co-founder and chief scientist.

She has been named as one of the most promising women entrepreneurs by Fortune in 2014 and one of six innovative women to watch by Entrepreneur in 2015. Her Jibo robot has been honoured by Time Magazine as one of 2017’s best inventions.

 4. Tessa Lau: The Robot Whisperer:

Lau is the founder and CEO of Dusty Robotics, a start-up which builds robot-powered tools to automate construction tasks and increase efficiency and safety in the construction industry. AI in construction is estimated to be billion global market by 2023.

Prior to this, she was the co-founder, CTO, and chief robot whisperer at Savioke, a company providing robots for the healthcare, hospitality and logistics industries. Lau also worked at IBM Research for over 10 years.

She obtained her PhD in computer science from the University of Washington. She’s included in Inc.com’s list of top five innovative women to watch in robotics and Fast Company’s 2015 list of most creative people. (For more on robots, check out 5 Defining Qualities of Robots.)

5. Timnit Gebru: Leading the Ethical AI Movement:

As a research scientist at Google’s Ethical AI team, Gebru is at the forefront of finding solutions to the ethical issues surrounding artificial intelligence. She completed her post-doctorate at Microsoft Research’s FATE (Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics) in AI group and earned her PhD from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, with a focus on computer vision under Fei-Fei Li’s supervision. She also worked at Apple, designing circuits and signal processing algorithms for the company’s products.

Gebru’s research on combining deep learning with Google Street View to identify U.S. neighborhood demographics was featured in outlets such as BBC, The Economist and The New York Times, and won her first prize in LDV Capital’s 2017 Entrepreneurial Computer Vision Challenge.

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