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IWD 2024: Investing in women to create a responsible AI future
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

Every year, International Women's Day (IWD) serves as a poignant reminder for businesses to delve deeper into how we're creating and investing in opportunities for women in the workplace and beyond. 

There is already a vast amount of research existing today that shows: firstly, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) worker earns over double the amount of a non-STEM worker; however, women make up less than 30% of the world's researchers, and this number drops to 23% in the Asia Pacific. Women are also especially underrepresented in the technology industry – constituting only 24% of technology leadership roles globally and 30% of technology professionals working in AI today.

As technology continues to evolve and game changers like artificial intelligence (AI) transform how we work, the need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the tech industry has become more important than ever. AI effectively mirrors the data, values and assumptions of those who create and deploy it. And if those people are not diverse and inclusive, neither will the technology. 

With AI becoming increasingly central to our daily lives, it's vital that the technology industry starts investing in women's education and career development, championing the potential and achievements of women in STEM, and encouraging more young girls to enter STEM fields. Here are some ways to foster a more inclusive and equitable AI future for all of us:
1. Invest in Girls' STEM Education

Encouraging young girls to explore STEM subjects from an early age is crucial. Parents, teachers, and mentors can play a significant role in fostering girls' interests in these fields by providing opportunities for learning and hands-on experimentation. Programs and initiatives such as STEM Scholarships, Girls Who Code,, and Tech Girls Movement are working to close the gender gap in technology by offering educational resources, financial assistance, and support networks for girls interested in STEM.
2. Support Women in the Workplace

Organisations must create inclusive work environments that encourage women to pursue careers in AI and STEM. Implementing diversity and inclusion policies such as gender transition or fertility leaves, offering flexible work arrangements, and providing mentorship programs can help attract and retain female talent. Additionally, promoting deserving women candidates into leadership positions can further demonstrate a company's commitment to gender equality.
3. Collaborate with Industry Partners

Partnerships between academic institutions, private companies, and non-profit organisations can help create a more inclusive AI ecosystem. By collaborating on research, development, and education initiatives, these organisations can work together to address gender disparities in STEM and promote a diverse talent pool. Partnerships can also lead to the development of AI technologies that better reflect the needs and perspectives of all users.
4. Develop AI Ethically and Responsibly

Finally, to ensure AI is developed fairly and without bias, we must establish clear guidelines and best practices. Encouraging diverse teams to collaborate on AI projects can help minimise unconscious biases and promote fairness. Additionally, implementing transparent AI development processes, regularly auditing algorithms for bias, and engaging with stakeholders to address ethical concerns can further contribute to responsible AI deployment.
There's still work to be done across the industry to ensure that women are fully represented and supported, but I'm optimistic as we rally our efforts together to create the future. The rapid progress in AI, especially with its ability to shape the world, will enable us to balance the playing field for women and eliminate bias. I'm excited to see what the future holds for women aspiring to make a career in this space.