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The Importance of Women in AI: Celebrating International Women's Day

Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the development of Artificial Intelligence systems, and their participation is crucial to creating more equitable and inclusive technologies.

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International Women’s Day is a global celebration of women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is also a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality and the need to empower women across all fields, including technology. Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly growing field that has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work. However, despite the recent advancements of women in tech, the industry remains largely male-dominated.

This year, International Women's Day’s theme is all about digital innovation and technology for gender equality. The theme highlights the crucial role that technology and innovation can play in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls around the world.

According to an announcement from UN Women, "Digital innovation and technology can help break down barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. They can help women and girls participate fully in the digital economy, and enable them to exercise their human rights and freedoms."

The Importance of Women in Tech

Gender diversity is not just a matter of social justice; it also has tangible economic benefits. Research has shown that companies with women in leadership positions are more profitable and innovative. Moreover, diversity of perspectives can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

Despite the potential benefits, women are still underrepresented in tech. According to a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women hold only 26% of computing jobs, and only 5% of tech startups are owned by women. Furthermore, women of color are even more underrepresented. Only 3% of computing jobs held by African American women and 2% by Latina women in 2021 in the US.

Women in Artificial Intelligence

The participation and representation of women in AI are crucial for the development of inclusive and unbiased technology. Diversity in AI teams leads to a broader range of perspectives and experiences, which can help avoid biases in data, algorithms, and models. Additionally, women bring unique skills to the field, such as empathy and collaboration, which are important for developing AI that benefits all members of society.

Women in AI are making significant contributions to the field and advocating for ethical and inclusive development. For example, Joy Buolamwini, a computer scientist and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, has been a leading voice in the fight against bias in AI. Her research has shown that facial recognition technology is less accurate for darker-skinned individuals, and she has called for regulation to address these issues.

Inspiring Women

As part of our celebration of International Women's Day, we want to spotlight three women who use YOLOv5 and YOLOv8, our popular deep-learning algorithms for a variety of computer vision tasks.

Andrea Vallabueno

Andrea Vallabueno IWD

Andrea Vallabueno aimed to create an objective measure of urban decay using YOLOv5.

Andrea is a Research Fellow of Computational Science at Stanford University’s Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab.

As a child in Mexico City, Andrea was acutely aware of the dramatic disparities between neighborhoods like Santa Fe, where a large concrete wall separated the rich from the poor.

Andrea and her team found YOLOv5 to be incredibly easy to work with. They spent  the majority of their time on curating their dataset and training their models. The trained model was used to run inference on 114,000 street view images from different neighborhoods in San Francisco, Mexico City, and South Bend.

The detections of the eight attributes were aggregated at the street segment level to generate indices of urban decay and measure the change in the incidence of urban decay over time.

Kristen Kehrer

Kristen Kehrer IWD

Kristen Kehrer is an inspiring data scientist working at Comet as a Developer Advocate, but her resumé doesn't end here.

Kristen is also the Founder of Data Moves Me, co-author of “Mothers of Data Science”, and was named a 2018 LinkedIn Top Voice in Data Science & Analytics with currently more than 92k LinkedIn Followers.

Kristen has been delivering innovative and actionable machine-learning solutions across multiple industries. Moreover, she has extensive experience in data science, machine learning, and software engineering.

She has spoken at numerous conferences and events, sharing her expertise on machine learning, data science, and related topics.

Our favorite project of Kristen's was school bus detection. Testing out our Comet integration with YOLOv5, Kristen trained the model to detect her kids’ school bus passing by her house. This then triggered a process resulting in her phone being sent a text notification. Once she gets a text, Kristen has about six minutes to get her kids ready to catch the bus.

Lians Wanjiku

Lians Wanjiku IWD

Lians Wanjiku is a Data Science and Machine Learning enthusiast from Kenya. After realizing how easy it is to extract valuable insights from data, Lian became intrigued by the field of Machine Learning. About a year ago, she joined a data science community and has since developed a strong interest in pursuing it as a career.

Lians is now a senior-year student and research assistant intern in the data science center at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. Lians was using YOLOv5 to classify animal species in her school’s conservancy, later in the project, she realized that after classification, the model could automatically annotate all the images. This makes it easier to reduce human effort and save time annotating images.

To Lians, it is amazing how data science and AI drive the future!

Our community is made up of a diverse group of individuals who we aim to empower by placing the power of AI in everyone’s hands. Andrea, Kristen, and Lians are just a few examples of the many talented and innovative women using computer vision to make a difference in the world. On this International Women's Day and every day, we commend these women’s achievements and continue to support and encourage women in tech.

Empowering women in tech is not only a beneficial movement from a social justice perspective but something that can benefit the industry and society as a whole.

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