While organizing our very first WAI Awards together with Capgemini on April 18 during AI Night Paris, celebrating women entrepreneurs in AI , I would like to reflect a bit on our DNA and strong commitment to pave the way for change thanks to the power of community.
Women have what it takes
When I met Moojan Ashgari and Hanan Salam back in 2017, I quickly felt we were up to create something ambitious. We shared the same vision for an inclusive Artificial Intelligence and we felt the urgency to act fast to include women in this unique revolution for human kind where they’re desperately missing : only 22% of AI professionals are women according to the World Economic Forum.
Why is this crucial? AI is now part of our daily lives, it is already increasingly being used in decision-making when it comes to education, police, justice, recruitment or health. Question is : who are the people responsible for designing and developing these automatic solutions that are literally shaping our society and reproducing the behavior of their creators? Mostly western men. The lack of women in that field increases the risk of gender bias reproduction in these algorithms, and worse, prevents the emergence of a reflection on this topic.
So, where are women, why don’t they get involved? Why engineering should be a male job, why are they still less and less women students embracing STEM studies when we desperately need them to take action? Why such a total disinterest and/or surrender when it comes to their future? We absolutely need women to dare to speak up, to dare to assume that we have our word to say in tomorrow’s society. This is a major stake for humanity at the dawn of a new era powered by AI.
The task is huge, the recipe seems complex. Centuries of biaises, discriminations, stereotypes on women have stolen our inner confidence and makes us feel as impostors as soon as we go off beaten tracks. Admit it, this feeling you never really deserve compliments, that you’ll always be delivering and offering less than your colleagues or friends. You’re never good enough. We often set our goals so high that we are never able to celebrate any little success.
However, women are sensitive, intuitive, awesome listeners, great empathizers -so many soft skills highly needed in a close future where many tasks will be automatized by machines- and above all women are strong, so strong! Because of this difference inherited through history, we did build this unconscious and amazing resilience, this capacity to bear and to resist in any circumstances.
So how to reverse the situation, build or re-build self-confidence, how to make us fully aware and proud of our capabilities? How to bring back and nurture the Amazon spirit each little girl tends to lose growing up?
Women reverse empowerment
Well, my gut feeling is that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I strongly believe we, women, have already everything it takes to reverse the trend. We absolutely need to leverage on our great abilities to share, support, trust and mix them with a high dose of confidence and empowerment. #secretsauce!
That’s why we’ve chosen to create a community gathering women in AI, whether with a tech or not tech profile :
- A community based on trust, sharing and caring, where women can fully express what they’re good at.
- A community as an enabler where women can access a unique set of resources to learn and nurture their projects and careers
- A community to celebrate each little step in your journey and empower each one of us
- A community to gather roles models who will sponsor, mentor, support and raise the next generation of women role models and influencers in AI.
And this is when the magic of the community happens!
In the last 2 years, we’ve been spreading the word, through conferences, through our flagship event WaiTALK managed by our brilliant Emilie, and our amazing team of ambassadors all around the world. These women are our first role models and I want to celebrate them here and thank them all for their incredible support! Check them all on our website.
Today WAI is counting 1300+ members from 80+countries around the globe making WAI the first international and most diverse community of women in AI.
Our community on Slack is taking off : more than 25 000 posts and messages in the last 18 months. Data scientists, engineers, researchers, professors, students but also entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, journalists, politicians, etc. our community is gathering a very wide range of expertises covering 60+ different industries.
YOU are making Women in AI!
Community is at the core of everything we do at WAI, it’s a platform to feed projects, initiate the next ones and our role as core team is to facilitate this beautiful mechanism.
Because it’s also key to meet and create bonds, we organize many events all around the world :
Simple gathering to meet in real life with WaiTIME
WaiTALK event tacking one specific topic related to AI with women experts on stage
WaiONSTAGE, our speakers curation program for events
WaiOPENDOOR taking our members to visit tech companies
Education is central at WAI : we need more young women to get involved in the field and more working women to get educated about AI. To do so, we’ve launched our educational program Wai2GO by women in AI trainers for women in AI, led by Hanan Salam.
WaiCAMP to initiate the younger ones to AI and robotics
WaiALUMNI to help and support students willing to embrace STEM studies
WaiMASTERCLASS to educate working women
And this is just the beginning, as any community-driven initiative, the potential for organic development is huge and it also depends on how it is cultivated and nurtured. Basically, the more you give the more you get ! Up to you to make it happen : do your research, post contents, ask and answer questions, ping other members on Slack, create your opportunities ;-)
For the ones who are willing to do more, don’t hesitate to launch a project under WAI umbrella and recruit your team within the community!
Our amazing community managers Neira and Melisande are also here to help and guide you through the potential of the community.
We are only at the beginning, the future belongs to us and it’s our responsibility to make it happen!
Join us @womeninai.co