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The smell of sweaty T-shirts and testosterone hung heavily in the air while a motivated machine learning expert gave his lecture on NLP. I counted four participants in the well-filled hall of the Data Science Conference. "Tell me where the women are," I thought.
Anyone who has not yet personally experienced such a situation: Zwealth of statistics prove that the lack of diversity in the AI and tech industry is still a fact of life. We present four networks that want to change this and were founded by women. Change begins with the first step.
1. for beginners: Women in AI
Women in AI (Wai) was founded in 2016 by Hanan Salam, Caroline Lair and Moojan Asghari in Paris. The non-profit organization now has more than 3,500 members worldwide. Any AI enthusiast is welcome, regardless of gender or professional background. The focus is on a shared passion for artificial intelligence. As a do-tank, Wai ambassadors organize local meet-ups and educational events to increase the representation and participation of women in the AI industry. Female experts share their knowledge with the audience and show that not only the male gender can be technophile. The heart of Wai is the Slack Channel, where the global community networks and exchanges ideas.
How can a woman join in? - Simply fill out the form on the website entitled "Become a Member" and you can get started - without any costs or obligations. Alternatively it is worth taking a look at the global or local LinkedIn page of the DACH community. Events are regularly announced here, which give a first insight into the work of the organisation,
Two. For generalists: Women in Tech
Women in Tech® is an international movement founded in 2018 by Ayumi Moore Aoki in France. A mother of 4 children and an entrepreneur, she has a double mission: to close the gender gap and help women to use technology. The organisation currently has members in more than 60 countries and focuses on four main areas: education, entrepreneurship, social inclusion, science & innovation. The aim is to train, equip and empower women and girls with the necessary skills and confidence to succeed in MINT professional fields. In contrast to Women in AI, WIT is dedicated to different fields of expertise: science, technology, engineering and Mathematics.
How can a woman join in? - There are different ways to get involved: After filling out the registration form on the website, women can join an existing local network or start a local network themselves that does not yet exist. Interested women can also become a mentor or mentee. Women in Tech also organizes numerous events, such as the 24h Virtual World Tour, which took place online on 27 - 29 May 2020.
3. for female programmers: PyLadies
The heart of the PyLadies beats for the Programming language Python. The group was formed in 2011 in Los Angeles, consisting of the seven women Audrey Roy Greenfeld, Christine Cheung, Esther Nam, Jessica Venticinque, Katharine Jarmul, Sandy Strong, and Sophia Viklund. Python is considered one of the most important languages for machine learning and is often used to analyze and process large amounts of data.
Like the two previous NPOs, PyLadies is a non-profit organization that hosts local hackathons and events around the world. Invited are all women who either already know Python or want to learn the programming language.
How can a woman join in? - Under the navigation point "About" women can either join a local Meet-Up Group or independently with the PyLadies Starter Kit on GitHub. Alternatively, you can access the organization's slack channel here. However, the PyLadies are very keen to ensure that there is serious interest in code and Python.
4. gender diversity is not enough: Black in AI
In 2016, computer scientist Timnit Gebru took part in the annual conference NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems) and counted six coloured people among the 8,500 participants. This circumstance motivated her one year later to join a few friends Black in AI to found the company. The initiative creates a place for exchanging ideas, promoting cooperation and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of black people in the field of AI. Within this framework, various technical workshops and mentoring programmes are held annually. Black in AI also organizes forums to promote partnerships and cooperation.
When were you last outnumbered? Change begins with participation.
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash