womeninairobotics
Published in

womeninairobotics

Celebrate the Past. Challenge and Change the Future.

Authors: Umme Abiha, Dr. Teena Hassan

Happy International Women’s Day! Another year later, today, we salute the women who have struggled and achieved despite barriers. But we still combat society to achieve what is rightfully ours, the equity of treatment.

A lot of things have changed in the world for good or for worse, but the gender gap in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics still remains far from being resolved.

AI and Robotics are key technologies that are already part of our lives. They have an impact not only on individuals, but also on organizations, societies, and humanity as a whole. This influence is poised to increase in the coming years. Given this, one of the million-dollar questions to ask is — Are these technologies sensitive to the diversity of individuals and societies, and to the complexities and intricacies of the real-world and its problems?

Several instances of biases in AI-based technologies have been revealed by studies and have been reported in the media. Many of these created an uproar and sparked a surge in research and development of responsible AI and the investigation of algorithmic bias. Interestingly, many of these biases dealt with the gender and ethnicity dimensions of diversity. The widely known examples include the gender and racial biases in facial analysis technologies and the gender bias in an AI tool that scored applicants for technical jobs. While unearthing such biases is important to mitigate the discriminatory effects of technology usage, it is not possible to prevent or fix such biases, if the diversity of the end-users of technology is not reflected in the community that develops and validates such technologies.

Yet another important aspect to consider is the purposes for which AI and robotics technology are developed or the contexts in which they are applied. Hereby, it is crucial to ensure that the demands and needs of different sections of the society are addressed in an equal and balanced manner — for example, do we have effective AI based solutions for maternity care or for child nutrition? A lack of equal representation of diverse groups in technology development would lead to the omission of such demands and needs as well as to the failure to include diverse priorities, perspectives, and ideas. This would further exacerbate economic, social, and geographical inequalities.

Thus, gender equality in AI and Robotics is essential to reduce technology-driven discrimination and inequalities between different genders in societies across the globe. However, a plethora of facts and figures clearly indicate that women are under-represented in technology fields. Only 22 percent of the workforce in AI has a female representation globally as stated by WEF, only 12 percent of leading machine learning researchers are female, and less than 10 percent of AI Entrepreneurs in Germany & EU are female. According to OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), fewer than 5 percent of girls in high school consider engineering or computer science as a career field. These statistics show that we are far away from reaching gender equality in AI or related fields such as robotics. The only way to bridge this gap is to involve more women by breaking the barriers to their entry, by providing them greater access to information, education and opportunities.

Removing barriers to enter technical fields requires cooperation from ALL levels of society since it impacts EVERYONE’s lives. We cannot emphasize enough on the dire need to have all hands on deck to reduce this gender gap, and so we are calling out to all levels of society, be it individuals, companies, nonprofits or government organizations to join hands with us to change the future.

Equality Hurdles. Artwork by Emanu Garnheim — with permission.

Since our inception last year, the Women In AI & Robotics community has grown tremendously and created a monumental impact in reducing the gender gap in society. We hosted 26 events such as Tech Meets Art and Hackathons with over 500 participants globally, conducted 17 weeks long Accelerator Programs for women to become entrepreneurs in Artificial Intelligence, are a proud commitment maker and Coalition Partner of UN Women for Gender Equality to #ACTFOREQUAL and achieved so much more!

All of this would not have come to life without our rapidly growing 34 core team volunteers and 650+ members world-wide! We currently have chapters in Stuttgart, Berlin, Munich and Bremen. Moreover, we will celebrate the launch of chapters in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Waterloo later in 2022!

To hear from our champions of change on this International Women’s Day, we decided to reach out to our network and absorb their thoughts. We provided them with four questions below and let them quote away!

⚖️ What does Gender Equality mean to you?

✌️ How can we achieve Gender Equality?

💡Who inspires you?

🦋 What would you do if you were in charge of making changes to the status quo of the gender gap in STEM related fields?

Here is what our network had to share with us:

Sheila Beladinejad

CEO, O Canada Tech; President, Women In AI & Robotics

Sheila Beladinejad

“If the people working on artificial intelligence tools, products and services don’t resemble the society (gender, ethnicity, abilities) perspective then their innovation will not have a positive impact on society and there will always be an imbalance”

Prof. Dr. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla

CEO, DLR

Prof. Dr. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla. Credit: DLR

“In Deutschland genießen ingenieur- und naturwissenschaftliche Berufe ein sehr hohes Prestige. Frauen sind zunehmend präsent in höheren Führungsrollen in Unternehmen und Forschungseinrichtungen. Hier ist eine sehr positive Entwicklung zu erkennen. Ich habe nicht nur in der Raumfahrt ganz außerordentliche und talentierte Frauen kennengelernt, die mit Leidenschaft ihren Beruf ausüben. Deshalb ist es für uns wichtig, dass im DLR die Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf ein wichtiges Gut ist und weiter konsequent gefördert wird“, betont Prof. Amke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Vorstandsvorsitzende des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt DLR.”

“Engineering and the natural sciences enjoy a very high prestige in Germany. Women are increasingly present in higher management roles in companies and research institutions, so we can see a very positive development here. I have met extraordinary and talented women who are passionate about their profession in the area of space travel and in other areas. That is why it is important to us at the DLR having a family and a career is compatible. To us, this an important value and one that we continue to consistently promote at DLR.”

Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger

CEO, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)

Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger

“Gleichstellung und Diversität sind dem DFKI wichtige Anliegen. Daher werden wir die Karrierewege von Frauen in der Wissenschaft noch stärker fördern.“ Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, CEO, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI)”

“Equality and diversity are important values of DFKI. Therefore, we will promote the career paths of women in science even more strongly.”

Stéphane Dion

Ambassador of Canada to Germany and Special Envoy to the European Union and Europe.

Stéphane Dion

“Let us imagine the gains in knowledge, discoveries and innovation that gender equality in STEM could bring to us all! There is an urgency, ethical and existential, to break down all the barriers, all the prejudices, which could make a little girl believe that math is not for her because she is a girl. Around the world, gender biases and deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviours are contributing to this gender gap in STEM. As a world, we need to dismantle those beliefs that too often, for example, praise assertiveness in men while criticizing those same qualities in women. Let’s chase down all the gender stereotypes that make STEM fields look masculine.

Give us more women scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, from all over the world, from all continents, we all need them! Supporting women in STEM is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

Swantje Schmidt

Head of Corporate Communication, DFKI Bremen/Niedersachsen

Swantje Schmidt

“I would like to encourage all curios women to look out for jobs where their interests are nourished. Our ideas are needed to make the world a better place. No matter how many hours per week we can work or how many kids we have.”

Melanie Stütz

CEO, IDEASCANNER; Startup Accelerator Advisor, Women In AI & Robotics

Melanie Stütz

“Gender equality also means freedom. The freedom to no longer have to fight for your rights. The freedom to learn anything. The freedom to pursue anything professionally, regardless of gender. The freedom to simply be the one you would never have dared to dream of.”

Dr. Irene Kilubi

Initiator & Organisational Lead, Joint Generations, Women in AI & Robotics Advisor

Dr. Irene Kilubi

“People who, despite all adversities and stumbling blocks, always get up and stand up for important issues, always showing attitude inspire me the most.”

Daniel Leidner

DLR Robotics & AI Scientist, Women in AI & Robotics Advisor

Daniel Leidner

“Robots that are able to support us in everyday life, need to be resilient to errors and failures. For the research on error detection and failure prevention it is important to be as diversified as possible with regard to different ways of thinking. Only if the diversity of the human mind can be transferred to an Artificial Intelligence as a systemic characteristic, robots will be universally applicable in the future. Therefore, diverse teams of robotics researchers are paramount to develop robots that can help our society to address the challenges ahead.”

Roland Becker

CEO, JUST ADD AI

Roland Becker

“The only sustainable way to close the gender gap in STEM related fields is to radically change the way we teach STEM topics in primary schools, and maybe even in kindergarten.”

Amelie A

Amelie A

“Equality is a matter of power allocation. A chain of historical events has led us to seeing masculinity as more competent (and thus more powerful), while discriminating against people from other genders. By default, the social categories we have built are biased: women are the care givers, men are the competitors/fighters. What we need is a commonsense of believing that every individual is capable of achieving whatever they want. Moreover, when reducing institutional barriers (glass ceiling, pay gap, ..), we must not look at gender isolated from other factors (ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ..) but see how everything intersects. There is a tech-feminist think-tank that inspires me: superrr.net.”

Aishwarya Gurung

“I think its time we abandon pushing gender stereotypes on kids and let them choose who they want to be. I think this small but important step will ensure that the future generations see each other as equal.”

Kathy Huynh

Kathy Huynh

“Gender Equality to me means equal opportunities for everyone. I think it is extremely important to discuss and have a conversation about gender equality, especially in fields where one gender dominates the other. Solutions to fix gender equality should include open dialogue, understanding, and further action.”

Umme Abiha

Umme Abiha

“When we say we want to eradicate gender inequality, it means that it currently exists in this world. I am here to ensure we can do everything possible to forget those two words together.”

Alissa Frenkel

Alissa Frenkel

“We can achieve gender equality by purposefully using the tools available to us, including the digital transformation that can offer leapfrog opportunities to women, especially in developing countries. It is crucial to not leave anyone behind but to consider the economic, political, and social barriers that may hinder women from fully participating in the digital labor market and accessing digital education, information on health, business, and socio-political matters. Thinking about the most marginalized when using and implementing digital technologies can ensure a gender-responsive project and program design and as such, facilitate more gender equality.”

Eftychia Koletsou

“Decisions are made based on results and predictions on these results. Results are the outcomes of data analysis, and predictions need ML and AI to work. In most ML/AI communities and working groups, females are just the minority. This, to my view, could lead to biased predictions/results, which at the end could affect the decisions and have a huge impact to our society.

If I was in charge of making changes, I would try to involve more girls and young women in STEM related fields by (1) investing on young female tech ‘influencers’ on social media (advertise them, funding their campaigns, etc.), (2) investing on game apps which promote the computational thinking.”

Dr. Maria Börner

Dr. Maria Börner

“We can only achieve gender equality if we teach gender equality to our children. Boys are allowed to wear pink clothes and skirts or use nail polish. Girls are strong to be the best in sports and are smart to study maths or physics.”

Meltem Eren Copur

“Gender equality means to me giving the women same opportunities and value as men in work-life. There should be regulations ensuring equal distribution of roles between genders so the companies don’t have the “freedom” to hire more of one gender. This also goes for promotions that there should be a quota for each gender in leadership roles. This is too important to leave it to the consciousness or awareness of the companies.

What we can do is: train women to apply for highly influential roles in tech that they can make a difference, teach them salary negotiation to reduce the gender pay gap, sponsor certificate trainings to make them stand out in a pool of candidates, set up networks to actively give preference to the underrepresented genders, set up help networks and coaching to support women in tech to transfer their unpaid workload (daycare, cleaning, etc.) so they can meet the high demands of their industry without getting burnout and leave their career after a point. I believe if we have a higher percentage of women in the workforce, the independence and power of women will increase and the culture will change tremendously to accommodate more women, but currently, we have too few women in tech positions and most of them are not in a position to make an impact despite they are there at the universities. So they are getting the education but they are not given the opportunity.

First of all, I would target high-tech companies to start programs with our community to train and employ women (where employment is somewhat guaranteed), in this case in AI and Robotics fields, and support these women to make advances in their careers to high-paid influential positions. Then, I’d go on with setting up the network of recruiters to hire women from our network in a regular fashion. I’d also train the women in our community about the realities of working life in tech in Germany, what happens if they stay in research and follow an academic track, what happens if they go into industry and follow a career track, and inform them honestly about the status quo so they don’t get stuck in positions where they have different expectations than the reality for too long.”

Killa Hnatko

Killa Hnatko

“I believe we can achieve gender equality by having more men understand and become our allies. I think we need more men in these discussion as I usually only see women take part in these type of initiatives. There are many things and people who inspire me, but who inpires me the most are other women making change in the STEM fields and who have a c-suite or executive position, as I would like to one day have this role.”

Klara Krieg

Klara Krieg

“Gender Equality means freedom and improvement for all genders — not only females, as we struggle in patriarchial structures. But the internalised structures we are facing impediments from, lead men and women to be influenced negatively in a similar way. Gender Equality means opening up opportunities and ideas to everyone and empowering all genders to follow their passion without being stopped by gender norms or biases!”

Dr. Teena Hassan

Dr. Teena Hassan

“Gender equality should begin at home, continue at school, and reflect at workplace. I think respect is at the root of gender equality. Where there is respect for each other’s life and freedom, respect for personal boundaries, there equality will naturally grow.”

Gabriela Buchfink

Gabriela Buchfink

(In German)

“Breaking the Bias 2022 heißt für mich, das “Entweder-Oder” endgültig über Bord zu werfen und Wege zu suchen, für ein großes “&”: Kinder & Verantwortung im Beruf, Verstand & Herz, Fachkompetenz & Empathie, Performen & das Leben genießen. Zukunftsfähig sind Strukturen und Lebensentwürfe, die das ermöglichen.”

“For me, Breaking the Bias 2022 means finally throwing the “either-or” overboard and looking for ways to create a big “&”: children & responsibility at work, mind & heart, expertise & empathy, performing & enjoying life. Structures and life plans that make this possible are future-proof.”

Nathanya Queby Satriani

Nathanya Queby Satriani

“I don’t have a single role model growing up.The idea is just to make everyone your teacher regardless of their gender & sexual orientation. Gender equality in STEM is having the guts to hire women for their skills and capabilities.We are more than just a diversity token.”

Nicole Schelter

Nicole Schelter

“Gender Equality means to me, there is acceptance of womens contribution to whatever topic, there is a ban on words like “Quotenfrau” (similar to Quotenschwarzer), Boards have equal representation, same in politics across all parties.

Men are not giving up their power, so a) a quota is a necessary first step. b) Another important step is to think about: which women could contribute, when a board or a panel is filled. for most of the people it is easier to find men : c)highlight the grievances and blame the accountable persons (sorry, based on my experience, this is necessary) d) talk about success, but not too much, to avoid the people begin to get lazy in working on this topic (maybe this is one reason, why younger girls are less engaged in this topic)

My inspirations are Angela Merkel, Rita Süssmuth.

Educate children/girls and show them STEM is fun b) think about women first when filling a position, etc.”

Carina Mieth

Carina Mieth

“I would start in kindergarten and address girls through targeted offerings and promote them in the STEM area. In addition, schoolchildren should learn programming. Coding examples should become more diverse so that everyone feels addressed. I would also like to give women in poorer countries opportunities for training in computer science and equip them with laptops and access to the Internet, so that they can enter an attractive job market.”

Mariya Davydova

Mariya Davydova

“For me Gender Equality means equal opportunities for any gender. In other words, the gender should never be a criteria when evaluating a person’s skills and traits.

I believe that one of the core problems is that many people don’t treat the genders equally, maybe even unconsciously, and they share their vision with their children. It’s not that STEM-related fields are not welcoming women today, it’s more that women don’t really think they can be there. If I were in change of making changes, I would first of all focus on the inspiration, sharing the stories of success of women in STEM-related fields.”

Anita Klingel

Anita Klingel

“I’m inspired by the next-gen men who make equality their responsibility as much as it is ours as women. They, too, face societal clichés that limit their life choices and acknowledging their struggle doesn’t diminish our own. We must stand, rise and fall together on this — as allies for a common cause.”

Maranata Muluneh

Maranata Muluneh

“Unbiased and clear involvement of both gender in any social economical political and cultural units of a society.”

Peter Seeberg

Peter Seeberg

“Gender equality is when women were included in the training data set.”

Nabil Alsabah

Nabil Alsabah

“Connie Willis is one of my favorite sci-fi authors. Her works are a constant inspiration to me. Some of her female protagonists — like Verity Kindle or Sandra Foster — provide excellent role models for us all.”

Dr. Ruth Müntinga

Dr. Ruth Müntinga

“To me, gender equality means that all people have the same rights and opportunities. We have already achieved the first point to a large extent, but there is still a lot to do in terms of opportunities.

In my opinion, the most important step on the way to real equality is first of all to acknowledge that it is not achieved (yet). In the second step, it is important to recognize that this is not about blame. Third, I think it requires the knowledge that these are stereotypes, thinking routines that are present in everyone. We need many of these routines to go about our daily lives, and some routines hinder us in our goal of achieving equality. These include, for example, thinking routines that girls are generally better at communication and boys at math. But also the education that boys are allowed to take up more space, be more competitive and more combative.

Girls, on the other hand, are brought up to act in the second row, to be a good hostess. Even today! This has an impact on all aspects of daily life. A woman is quickly perceived as too loud and dominant in a meeting. In a man, the same behavior would be described as assertive. In my opinion, starting here is the way to finally achieve true equality for all genders.”

About Us:

Women in AI & Robotics is a Global network of experts and professionals in Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, working towards gender-inclusive, ethical, and responsible solutions that benefit society.

​Our mission is to close the gender gap in AI & Robotics and increase female representation and participation through mentorship, education, hackathons, and startup accelerator programs.

Are you motivated about global networking, workshops about hot AI/ML topics, mentorship, and similar events? You can join us right away, by filling in this membership form, also present on our website. If you also wish to follow our journey, you can visit this link!

When it comes to closing the gender gap:

“Together, Stronger!”

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) we are ~100 years away from gender equality!!

We do hope we are not needed long before this time!

--

--

--

Experts, professionals and learners closing the gender gap and increasing female representation and participation in AI & Robotics

Recommended from Medium

Sony Pictures Launches AI-Powered Chatbot To Promote Resident Evil Movie

Why self-driving cars must design “killing programming”

Ethics for AI — A quick overview

The Allure of Dumb Quora Questions

IBM Watson Assistant Integration With Twilio SMS

EPISODE #48: How Microsoft Will Change The World (Again) Via Automation — Microsoft’s Charles…

Deep learning trends and an example

10 Great chatbot design ideas that you should implement in your chatbot

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Women in AI & Robotics Germany

Women in AI & Robotics Germany

Experts, professionals and learners closing the gender gap and increasing female representation and participation in AI & Robotics | AI ethics & governance

More from Medium

How To Tell If A Machine Is Intelligent

The Powerful Combination Of Artificial Intelligence and IoT

the time is now

Exponential Growth is a Major Challenge for the Human Brain

Ten Hotels That Tout Tech to Tempt Tourists