Future of Work News

Women Assuming Major Role in AI Development


As with most areas of technology, women are sorely underrepresented when it comes to AI development and its role in the future of work. AI has largely been discussed and touted as an automation tool for mundane tasks, and one that runs the risk of displacing thousands or millions of skilled laborers.  That narrow view of AI and automation sadly limits the benefits of promises of the technology, which certainly has the capability of transforming the global workforce.

Instead of replacing workers, AI has the power to elevate and augment laborers, enabling them to focus on a huge range of tasks and services that require human interaction. AI also has the potential to transform societal views and practices, which is where women are beginning to play a major role in its evolution. While technology has largely been a male dominated field, that is slowly changing and AI is increasingly being developed as an inclusive technology, representing all aspects, forms and variations of the human population.

Women have already begun to voice their views, as demonstrated by the Women in AI global, nonprofit group. The organization strives to increase female representation and participation in AI. Women in AI hosts global events discussing all aspects of AI including its role in diplomacy and international relations, fraud detection and the financial sector and its importance in applications and problem solving. With more than 2,000 members and over 90 countries represented, the group is already making a major impact in the global AI community.

Women in AI Panel discussion in Vienna

IBM and other companies are also attempting to elevate the role of women in AI, and the company recently released a 2019 list of 40 women who have made exceptional contributions to the field. The list includes women from a broad range of countries and vertical markets, and features several big players from the telecom space. These include Rupinder Dillon, the director of AI and machine learning at Bell Canada; Claudia Pohlink, head of AI at Deutsche Telekom/T-Labs; Severine Marquay, who handles AI experience, digital support and innovation at Orange France; and Tanja Richter, director of consumer products and services for Vodafone UK.

IBM itself boasts one of the top 10 women innovators in AI with Rama Akkiraju, distinguished engineer and master inventor for IBM Watson. Akkiraju is the leader of the People Insights mission at IBM Watson, developing technologies that infer emotions, personalities, attitudes and intensions by mining social media data. She is also a team leader for several Watson services, including a tone analyzer.

Additional strides certainly need to be made around AI and inclusivity of all genders. The pioneers and groups mentioned above are off to a great start, however, indicating a bright future for AI that will extend well beyond workforce automation and augment and enhance the future of work across all genders and social constructs.

To learn more about how women are making major inroads in the areas of AI and machine learning, TMC is hosting a Future of Work Expo in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The event, which will take place from February 12-14, 2020, will explore how AI and machine learning may be used to improve business communications, collaboration, sales and marketing and contact centers and customer service.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Future of Work Contributor

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