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The Role of Women in Scaling Up AI and Data Science

  • 7 mths ago

STEM education can boost the role of women in AI and data science fields

Women are the key piece to the puzzle of realizing the highest maturity levels of digital enterprises, but unless we realize this, our progress in AI and technology will remain stagnant. To close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to accelerate advances in artificial intelligence and the sciences, we must encourage and support women on all levels, from the government to enterprise and establish equal employment opportunities for all.

Women make up a fraction of the artificial intelligence workforce, whether in the form of research and development or as employees at technology inclined firms. According to the World Economic Forum, “Non-homogeneous teams are more capable than homogenous teams of recognizing their biases and solving issues when interpreting data, testing solutions or making decisions.” In other words, diverse teams and especially those that emphasize women at their epicenter, are a necessary provision for enterprises to adopt, build, realize and accelerate enterprise AI maturity levels. At present, unfortunately, few enterprises understand the criticality of women to boost AI maturity levels.

STEM, data science, and AI fields experience a lack of female role models. Without female role models for girls to look up to, it becomes difficult for young women to envision future careers in science, technology, and engineering fields. A 2018 Microsoft survey shows that female STEM role models boost the interest of girls in STEM careers from 32 percent to 52 percent. Therefore, we must showcase the achievements of women in the sciences and engineering across the world to capture the attention of females everywhere.

One of the biggest pressures that females face in STEM careers is cutthroat competition amongst male counterparts and the toxic workplace culture that it creates. An HBR article found that three-fourths of female scientists support one another in their workplace to ease tensions. Moreover, women are likely to be demoted as inferior by men holding equivalent positions, whether those jobs are in engineering, data science, or AI. All of these factors contribute to females swiftly dismissing STEM jobs to avoid such disquieting workplace circumstances.

According to a survey conducted by BCG, when it comes to STEM, “Women place a higher premium on applied, impact-driven work than men do: 67% of women expressed a clear preference for such work, compared with 61% of men.” This finding highlights a significant fact: women are vastly more likely to pursue STEM roles that provide them with meaning, purpose and produce impactful results, but many women don’t perceive this purpose and impact in STEM jobs. Therefore, without a clear high impact-driven pathway insight, females tend to turn their heads on STEM, data science, and AI-related careers.

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