Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Voices

Women in AI: Here’s What It Takes to Lead

Ritika Puri
June 03, 2019

3 minute read

The world is experiencing a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally change what it means to be a human being on planet earth. Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the center of this shift. In the retail sector alone, according to Juniper Research, global spending on AI will grow to $7.3 billion by 2020—up from $2 billion in 2018.

This growth forces technologists to take on leadership roles as founders, executives, scientists, and educators. But there’s a key demographic group missing from this picture—women in AI. Women make up only 12% of leading machine learning researchers, according to WIRED.

So what does it take to rewire the gender status quo and lead as women in AI? Two founders share insights into how they’re forging new leadership paths.

Jenny Griffiths, founder at Snap Tech

Follow her: @jennysnaptech, LinkedIn
About Snap Tech: This London-based visual search platform uses proprietary AI and machine learning technology to map content and images to products online.

Q: How do you see your role as leader among women in AI?
I see my role as a job creator. We are putting focus into building diversity across age, gender, and race to broaden our horizons in the world. AI is the byproduct of the human mind. We build what our experiences and imaginations see.

Q: What opportunities do you see for job seekers, especially career changers?
If a 60-year-old with previous experience in nursing walked into our office and showed talent, we wouldn’t think twice about hiring him. AI is a human-powered field. We need people making sure that the data and analyses make sense. Learn how to work with data. Harness creative talents. There are jobs out there that you didn’t know existed.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that we need to solve in AI, right now?
It’s easy to train a model and scale up a workflow. We’re seeing a lot of companies move fast but with uninformed data. In my opinion, this is damaging to the integrity and accuracy of AI. Our industry needs more of a human touch in analyzing what’s going on and feeding that information back into the system.

 

Susana Zoghbi , founder at MACTY.EU

Follow her: @susanazog, LinkedIn
About MACTY: This Belgium-based startup powers the latest in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning for retailers and fashion brands to create new and fun shopping experiences, unlocking customer delight.

Q: What makes you most passionate in this field?
From a scientific view, I am fascinated about enabling machines to understand the world. In a few decades, technology has allowed us to emulate parts of our cognitive and locomotion behaviors that took evolution millions of years to accomplish. This is truly wonderful! From a business view, I am passionate about creating AI-powered solutions to help businesses grow. Additionally, AI has brought up a lot of ethical issues that need to be discussed at a world level. There’s a lot of research in trying to take on the bias of algorithms. We need to be cautious that the data we feed is representative.

Q: What do you monitor on a global level?
I closely follow the top academic conferences in machine learning to contribute and stay up to date with how our field evolves. I am also interested in examining biases in computer vision systems for facial recognition.

Q: Did you always envision yourself as a leader?
No way. Throughout my life, I’ve always had a passion for math and physics, and I’ve worked hard to learn. But I’ve experienced imposter syndrome just like anyone else. Women are raised to have an incredibly high standard of perfection, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I was suffering. I discovered mindfulness and meditation, and this helps me persist.

Interviews edited for clarity; as told to Ritika Puri.

To read more about women in technology, visit https://smartercx.com/womenintech/.

Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri is a business writer who enjoys making complex topics digestible and fun. She regularly consults for companies in the marketing technology, IT, analytics, financial services, and healthcare space and enjoys leveraging this knowledge in her writing.
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