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When I joined VentureBeat three months ago, it came as no surprise to discover that a stubborn gender gap remains among AI professionals and researchers. Frustrating, to be sure, especially when the demand for AI talent is so high. But surprising? No. 

The statistics say it all: A 2020 World Economic Forum report found that women make up only 26% of data and AI positions in the workforce. According to the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI’s 2021 AI Index Report, women make up just 16% of tenure track faculty focused on AI globally. 

Connecting with women in AI

That’s why I’m particularly excited to attend VentureBeat’s in-person Executive Summit at Transform on July 19th at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, which serves as the kickoff for six subsequent days of virtual content and is the leading event on applied AI for enterprise business and technology decision makers. 

However, I’ll admit that when I was first approached to participate in the Women in AI events at Transform, my jaw reflexively clenched at the idea that there needed to be a separate Women in AI agenda at all. And as the sole female reporter at VentureBeat covering AI, I was the obvious editorial staffer to play a role. 

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But it didn’t take long for me to recognize and be grateful for the significant opportunity I had before me to connect with the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of inspiring women leaders attending Transform. Not only will it be incredible to finally meet members from across the AI community in person, but it will be particularly powerful for me to moderate the annual Women in AI Breakfast panel first thing in the morning. 

For this dedicated conversation celebrating the achievements of women within the AI field, I’ll be talking with three AI leaders: JoAnn Stonier, chief data officer at Mastercard; Ya Xu, VP of engineering, head of data at LinkedIn; and Molly Parr, VP, product, digital customer experiences, enterprise products and platforms. 

In this panel discussion, we will focus on how the increase of women in Data & AI-centric fields has helped shine a light on unconscious bias and lead to greater understanding of how to avoid it, thereby creating opportunities to improve diversity in all aspects, not just gender.

Women in AI awards

I follow the top AI thinkers on social media, read their insights in a variety of publications and interview them for my own stories in VentureBeat. I certainly see women in AI leading the way in areas including ethics, bias and human-centered AI. They are helming AI efforts at top brands and vendors, and doing cutting-edge research at leading global labs. 

So I’m equally keen to attend the peer-nominated Women in AI Awards at the end of the day, with ​​nominees in five categories: Responsibility and Ethics of AI; AI Entrepreneur; AI Research; AI Mentorship; and Rising Star. Winners will be selected based on their commitment to the industry, their work to increase inclusivity in the field, and their positive influence in the community. 

Keeping the conversation going

The gender gap in AI shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. According to Deloitte AI Institute’s Women in AI report, in 2019 women accounted for 22% of all AI and computer science PhD programs in North America. This was just 4% higher than 2010. 

So there’s plenty of work to do, and I take seriously my status as a woman technology journalist, especially in such a constantly-evolving field as AI. My favorite part of the gig is the opportunity to constantly learn from smart, talented, creative industry leaders – many of whom just happen to be women.

I look forward to keeping the conversation going with women AI leaders throughout the year, on issues that are top of mind throughout the industry. You can still join the conversation: Register for Transform here — and I’ll see you there.

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