Women are under-represented in tech, and even more so in artificial intelligence, where diversity is said to be “perilously low.”
Business Insider spoke to three female AI trailblazers at DeepMind, Facebook, and the Oxford Internet Institute to get their take on the field.
They revealed how they made their way through male-dominated classrooms, overcame casual sexism, and beat the odds to land top jobs.
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Tech has a women problem. Last November’s Google Walkout was successful in pushing the industry’s attitude towards women and minorities into the spotlight, but the problem is not a new one.
To give you an example, Facebook’s 2019 diversity report revealed that women only make up 23% of the technical workforce at the company. It was an improvement on Facebook’s first report in 2014, when female representation stood at 14%, but is still miles short of gender parity.
And there’s one field, in particular, suffering from a dismal lack of female representation — artificial intelligence. It’s so shocking in fact, that there are few official statistics on women in AI roles. The best indicator we have is the AI Now Institute’s recent report, Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race and Power in AI, which described “perilously low” diversity.
And this, at a time when artificial intelligence has turned into something of a gold rush since the AI winter of the late 1980s. Researchers’ experiments are making headlines for creating bots good enough to beat human players at video games or bringing the Mona Lisa to life. AI has also broken into the corporate world in a big way, with giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google relying heavily on AI systems to build and safeguard their products.
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Exactly why women are so under-represented in AI and tech in general is a question that still eludes researchers. Some blame a “pipeline problem” of fewer women taking up tech at university level, while others point to a hostile “tech-bro” culture creating the conditions for higher rates of dropout among women.
Business Insider spoke to three leading women in AI to get their take on the field, their opinions on what can be done, and their hopes for the future. We also heard about the casual sexism they have encountered. Scroll on to read their stories.
Claudia Exeler, the 29-year-old using AI to help Facebook track down hacked accounts
At 29, Claudia Exeler still feels like a newcomer to the industry.
Exeler got her Masters in computer science in Potsdam, Germany. The move from high school to university was a culture shock for her.
“I had a lot of female friends in high school and then that changed very much,” she said, remarking on the number of men on her course.
Facebook hired her straight out of university three years ago, and nine months ago she was promoted to manager on the Integrity Team. That translates to building systems which detect and fight some of …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Tech