Sonal Shah firmly believes more women should be in the tech industry. In this personal piece she talks to Female First about the importance and the urgent need for female involvement in AI technology.

Sonal Shah

Sonal Shah

The global impact of advancing AI technologies is rapidly increasing, dominating conversations worldwide as they have the potential to dramatically shape our society.

However, with a minimal number of women currently in the tech industry (26% according to the Women In Tech Survey 2023) -  how can there be true diversity when AI is being developed? This opportunity must not be missed, as broadening diversity will benefit the industry in every way. 

The presence of women in the technology field is more crucial than ever. As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to shape our future, diverse perspectives are essential to ensure ethical development and value from its widespread benefits, among many other reasons which I will share throughout this article. 

Having more women brings diverse perspectives, fostering creativity and innovation as we bring unique perspectives shaped by different experiences and backgrounds. This, in turn, contributes and leads to a more comprehensive, innovative, and broader range of ideas and viewpoints being considered during the development process, which is crucial for solving complex problems in AI development.

By including women, we can ensure that solutions are culturally sensitive, address diverse needs, and positively impact on a global scale.

Women in tech can actively address algorithmic discrimination, working towards creating AI systems that do not perpetuate or amplify existing gender biases, stereotypes, or discriminatory practices.

This helps identify and address any biases inherent in algorithms and data sets. Gender bias in AI algorithms has been a growing concern, and having women actively involved in the development process will help identify and rectify these biases, ensuring that AI systems do not perpetuate or amplify existing gender disparities. 

The use of AI in recruitment in talent management platforms is an example of this because if these systems are made with bias or the software does not consider a diverse workforce, how can this be effective?

As women, we often have a deep or good understanding of user needs and behaviours. With a seat at the table during the critical developments of this technology, systems can be designed with a focus on usability, accessibility and inclusivity, which leads to user-friendly and effective solutions.This may reduce the need to revisit and enhance solutions when things are not quite right, as we have seen many examples of bias in technology, such as the early face recognition used, which caused problems in areas like security.

Also, when discussing ethics, women can be more attuned to ethical considerations and societal impacts, ensuring developments are responsible and consider aspects like  privacy, fairness and social consequences. 

Intersectionality is vital for ethical AI design. Women from different ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds can contribute to identifying and addressing the complex interplay of factors that influence ethical considerations in AI.

Women in tech can provide valuable insights into the ethical implications of AI, helping to create just and equitable systems for all. 

By having more women in AI development, we ensure solutions are culturally sensitive, address diverse needs and positively impact a global scale. This is a strategic requirement for creating more effective AI technologies that benefit society.

There will also be a talent pipeline by encouraging more women to pursue careers, which can expand the talent pool and attract and retain diverse talent. The field of AI will benefit from broader skills, expertise, and diverse perspectives. 

Not to mention, visible representation of women in tech will inspire the younger generation because, as role models become visible, others will be able to visualise themselves in that position too. When young girls see successful women in the field, it encourages them to pursue careers in technology, creating a positive feedback loop for future diversity in the industry and working towards closing the gender gap in STEM fields. Promoting women in tech is essential for fostering a more inclusive and equal future.

Which is why I recommend that through creating more diverse teams, there is a better chance of recognising and mitigating gender, racial and even other biases, which results in fairer, more ‘inclusive’ AI technologies.This is an absolute necessity for the advancement of artificial intelligence.

In essence, having more women in tech ensures a richer, more comprehensive understanding of ethical challenges in AI development. Their contributions are essential for creating AI systems that align with ethical principles, prioritise fairness, and benefit society. 

The active involvement of women in tech is not just about representation; it is a strategic imperative for building a more responsible and ethical future for artificial intelligence.

Sonal Shah is a speaker, coach, tech advocate and vice president in banking with over 20 years of corporate experience. She is committed to helping women fulfil their potential in tech careers and has received several prestigious awards. These include the Tech100 and Diversity awards at the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Awards. and for her work promoting diversity, advocating for women in tech and for the future of technology, the community leadership award at the EmpowerHER Access Awards in 2023. This work has also led her to be named as one of Brummell’s Most Inspirational Women 2023, and listed as one of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in both 2022 and 2023.

She Chose Tech by Sonal Shah book cover image

Sonal’s new book She Chose Tech is an essential read for anyone looking to enter the tech industry or learn more about it, providing readers with a new awareness and knowledge of the sector, and the confidence to successfully kick start their own tech journey.

A book we highly recommend that any potential female with aspeations of career in tech must read - Female First. 

Read our review on Sonal Shah's 'She Chose Tech' - Here