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The Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs in the Field of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotics are still predominantly male domains. There are a lot of remarkable women on this list, but overall, women are still very rare in these traditionally male-dominated industries. It is high time that we acknowledge the significant contributions that female innovators are making to these fast-developing technologies and work towards eliminating the gender gap. Scholarships, more female employees, and more support for women in STEM fields are just a few ways that tech companies of all kinds and types can do their part to promote gender diversity. The future of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robots is unclear. But these pioneers will keep pushing young women to follow their passions and work in fields like engineering, technology, and computer science.

Read: The Top 10 Female AI Influencers for 2024

Top Female Executives Speak to the AiThority.com Editorial Team

This IWD, organizational diversity, and gender equality emerged as the top keywords during our discussions with the leading female executives based in the US, the UK, and India. Many organizations attract and retain female talent through diversity recruitment and career planning. Impact.com, for example, is a great example in this context.

Smita Pillai, Customer Success, impact.com said “The marketing industry has done a lot around diversity over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, we’re only just beginning to make tangible progress, and there is still so much to be done in fostering diversity both through the industry’s ranks and in leadership.

Inclusion in the workplace takes a huge amount of thought. It’s about stepping back, giving space for diversity to flourish, and dedicating time and energy to face uncomfortable truths around these topics. Discomfort is part of the process. It’s only through having open conversations about what makes people feel included that we (as an industry) can move forward with positivity. Mentoring and Coaching programs go a long way in developing talent through the ranks and giving them the support they need to thrive, while also offering managers the tools to lead their teams in empathetic, inclusive ways that encourage diverse points of view.

At impact.com, we’re always on the hunt for new ways of promoting greater diversity within the business. The impact.com Parental Leave program has been huge in bringing greater gender equality to the company.

I’ve also had the pleasure of hosting impact.com’s Coffee and Conversations panels, where we broach topics that people struggle to discuss openly (such as imposter syndrome and burnout). These chats highlight where impact.com stands on difficult subjects and help to develop company policy that makes people feel included and valued.”

We sat with Mary Wells, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloudera for a discussion on the occasion of IWD. Here is what she said:

Question: The New York Times’ list of top AI leaders highlights a significant lack of women on boards for leading AI companies. Any comments?

“The underrepresentation of women we are seeing in AI leadership, as highlighted by the New York Times’ list, shines a light on the gender biases we still see in the tech world. Addressing this from a leadership standpoint requires prioritizing mentorship and providing more training opportunities for women to gain the skills needed to advance their careers in this area. Establishing programs that pair aspiring female leaders with experienced female mentors for guidance and networking in the AI business landscape is a great first step to empowering women in tech.

Moreover, democratizing AI skills training is an essential piece in improving these statistics, as many women face barriers with breaking into job fields connected to AI. By investing in accessible online courses, workshops, and boot camps, we can promote a broader and more diverse audience.”

Question: What methods do you consider most effective for cultivating a diverse team? How do you prioritize collaboration within your approach?

“Cultivating a diverse team starts with hiring the best person for the role – regardless of gender – and creating an environment where everyone has a voice. Throughout my career, I’ve always prioritized collaboration and teamwork – it’s key to success – by encouraging individuals on my team to be vocal about their unique perspectives and at the same time listening to other differing views and opinions. Open and supportive conversations are vital for fostering inclusive environments with diverse teams where all contributions are valued, and everyone sees where they personally fit into the overall strategy.”

Manal Saho, Regional Business Growth Consultant at Preciso, shared her views on the importance of mentorship programs for women executives, especially in the adtech industry. Manal said, “The adtech industry – like many sectors – is lagging when it comes to gender diversity. It seems crazy that adtech isn’t doing more to benefit from the extra performance 50% of the world’s brains would provide.

I think many businesses struggle to know what practical steps might be taken to combat the issue, but there are plenty of great ideas out there ready for adoption.

For example, businesses must establish a diversity, equality, and inclusion policy and apply it rigorously. This will help shape how to improve gender equality. Flexible, paid parental leave is an obvious place to start, empowering women to look after their children while maintaining a career trajectory.

Full salary transparency is also a bold, brave policy that helps people understand they are valued, and avoids the murkiness surrounding the pay gap, while mentorship programs provide the opportunity for young women to make a start in an ad tech career.”

Profile photo of Cindi HowsonThe underrepresentation of women in tech is not a new problem. It’s even weaved its way into the very fabric of technology itself. Gender bias in generative AI exemplifies how stereotypes lurk within the data used to train these models.  Neglecting these biases risks perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and hinders the technology’s potential. To create truly inclusive AI, improving diversity in the tech industry is one critical approach.

Empowering women to pursue STEM careers through education and mentorship programs is key to building a more inclusive workforce. As more women join the ranks of developers, researchers, and AI leaders, this will bring a range of perspectives to the table that will be vital in developing models that reflect the full spectrum of human experiences.  Organizations working on AI models should also leverage outside stakeholders to identify biases in training data. We need broad frameworks in place that include safeguards like explainability and data transparency, enabling innovation while also mitigating bias. This should serve as a baseline as regulation is too slow to address evolving issues. We must concentrate our efforts on developing ethical frameworks and best practices that ensure AI serves as an inclusive tool for all of humanity.

Tendü Yoğurtçu, chief technology officer at global data integrity leader Precisely

Profile photo of Tendü Yogurtçu, PhDMany organizations are still missing a crucial element of DEIB initiatives – the representation in their data. While we like to think of data as being impartial, the truth is that human biases create data biases too. This presents a major challenge, particularly as the use of AI and automation grows. After all, AI models are a product of the data they are trained on. It’s already creating real-world issues – from impaired facial recognition software that less accurately identifies women and people of color, to inequities in healthcare provision, and more. To address this, businesses need to ensure that AI/GenAI and automation programs are being fuelled with high-integrity data – allowing leaders to make better, more representative, decisions.

“Ahead of International Women’s Day, it is essential for organizations to realize that AI programs need fuelling with high-integrity data. Data integrity is built on the core pillars of enterprise-wide integration, accuracy and quality, location intelligence, and data enrichment. By leveraging these pillars, organizations can ensure there is access to the right data, enrich it with trusted third-party datasets, correctly prepare it for use in intelligent models, and ensure data and AI governance. As sophisticated AI models continue to evolve in 2024, data integrity will play a pivotal role in unlocking their true potential, allowing organizations to elevate AI initiatives to new heights, and deliver trustworthy and dependable results that propel their business toward success.

Sandy Mahla, District Sales Manager, Datadobi: 

Profile photo of Sandy MahlaInternational Women’s Day (IWD) is a good time to both reflect and set our sights on the work that remains. As a working woman in a field still dominated by men, I see how far women have come through sheer grit, determination and necessity to provide for ourselves and our families. The battles fought by previous generations like Grace Hopper, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, our moms and aunts make our journey easier. And, I am grateful for organizations, like Datadobi, that provide opportunities for employees to thrive based on their merits and contribute to their full potential. But there is still work to do. How is it that in 2024 we are still dealing with pay gaps, being passed over for promotions, and having to fight twice as hard to get a seat at the table? And why do we as women feel we must be more than fully qualified for a new role while our male colleagues are willing to “go for it” with half the experience? The hard work is figuring out how to build organizations that don’t just give lip service about diversity but genuinely hear and value different voices and perspectives.   It’s easy for companies to initiate some training and call it a day on diversity. But creating a culture where each person feels empowered to speak up, turn off their phones at night, take their PTO and be part of something bigger than themselves is the trick. That’s the difficult part we’ve got to keep grinding on, day in and day out. Creating workplaces where people feel secure enough to offer new ideas, point out obstacles and discuss discrepancies without fear of reprisal is key.

In the UK, retaining female talent is a very challenging task.

Marcela Oguntoye, Commercial Operations Director at SeenThis, said — “Recent studies by research agency Hallam and The Agency Collective have shown that in the UK only 40% of senior management team members are female. This is even though there are more women than men in the workforce (54%), which shows that the industry has a lot of work to do about retaining female talent.

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to look at how female talent retention might be improved, with flexible parental leave a key consideration – as is ensuring women feel welcome and valued in the workplace. Unfortunately, many feel discriminated against for a variety of reasons, which might include their age and relationship status.”

Viktoriya Tsytsak, Senior Director, Head of CEO Office, Intelllias:

Profile photo of Viktoriya Tsytsak, PhD, ACCADespite the progress that’s been made, gender bias and stereotypes continue to pose challenges for women in both education and the workplace. This is changing as women are taking charge of their development and growth. Still, the journey to high-level positions can be particularly challenging. However, there are now two aspects of leadership that are helping women to overcome those challenges.  The first is to focus on the development of strategic thinking while navigating complex challenges and driving innovation in tech-related industries. Women leaders who excel in strategic thinking can effectively contribute to and shape the direction of their organizations, leading them to sustainable growth and success. The second is building high-performing teams, especially in tech, where collaboration and innovation are paramount.  Women leaders who can create inclusive environments, where diverse perspectives are valued and teams are empowered, can drive tangible business results and outperform competitors.” “Women’s economic empowerment is important to unlocking the full potential of female talent and creativity. Lifelong learning and professional development play a significant role in this empowerment process, and there are two important components in this journey.

First, investment in personal development to stay current with industry trends, and develop professionally and personally. Second, investment in the development of others to boost the broader potential for team members, the business and communities. During my work in Strategic Consulting and IT Services, I founded several professional and leadership development programs. They included mentoring others to help them enter STEM or switch to STEM from other industries. I also co-founded an MBA program focused on executives in the digital transformation area.  Such tailored and customized programs open up equal opportunities, and at the same time help businesses achieve their strategic aspirations. When women are economically empowered through learning opportunities and professional development, it contributes to better engagement at the workplace and more diversity and inclusion.

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Read: The Top 10 Female CEOs in the AI Industry for 2024

The Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs in the Field of AI

Adena Friedman is the CEO of Nasdaq

Profile photo of Adena FriedmanAdena T. Friedman is an American businesswoman. She is currently the President and CEO of Nasdaq, Inc. She was formerly a managing director and CFO of The Carlyle Group. She joined Nasdaq in 1993 and returned to Carlyle in May 2014 as President of Global Corporate and information technology solutions. In January 2017, she was named CEO of Nasdaq, becoming the first woman to lead the company. Nasdaq is a major international exchange and technology provider that offers investors and companies cutting-edge market solutions. Adena had the challenging task of guiding Nasdaq through a period of technological and industry transformation, but by emphasizing innovation and strategic alliances, she was able to position the business for success.

Alice Bentinck – Entrepreneur First

Profile photo of Alice BentinckIn 2012, Alice Bentinck co-founded a part-time course called “Code First: Girls” that taught over 5,000 women in the UK how to code. In 2011, she also co-founded a business called “Entrepreneur First.” This one-of-a-kind venture aimed at bringing people together in the tech environment so they could build startups using shared knowledge and expertise. Alice is one of the women leading the charge towards a more diverse future for the tech industry, so we think she’s an entrepreneur to keep an eye on.

Poppy Gustafsson, Darktrace

Profile photo of Poppy GustafssonFounded in 2013, Darktrace uses Self-Learning AI to enable machines to understand the business and autonomously defend it. CEO Poppy Gustafsson and one of the founders, along with CTO Jack Stockdale, were awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2019 for their contributions to cyber security. The technology developed by Darktrace AI can halt ongoing cyber attacks, such as ransomware, email phishing, and threats to cloud environments and critical infrastructure. More than 6,500 customers around the world depend on Darktrace’s digital immune system to prevent cyber disruptions.

Neeti Mehta Shukla, Automation Anywhere

Profile photo of Neeti Mehta ShuklaTo make automation accessible to all, Neeti Mehta Shukla is a co-founder of Automation Anywhere, a robotic process automation (RPA) company that optimizes the business processes of the world’s biggest enterprises and governments across nearly every industry. This includes 85 percent of the world’s top banks and financial institutions, 90 percent of the world’s top healthcare institutions, 85 percent of the world’s top technology companies, and 80 percent of the world’s top telecom companies.

Profile photo of Edith HarbaughEdith Harbaugh is a well-known tech entrepreneur who has led software and hardware products from concept to multi-million dollar success at consumer and enterprise startups. Her platform, LaunchDarkly, supports software developers and has customers like GoPro, Microsoft, and Trustpilot. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Edith was a mentor at HMC INQ, a startup accelerator that helps people grow their companies in the modern landscape. She still offers mentoring today.

Profile photo of Daphne KollerDaphne Koller is a renowned computer scientist and entrepreneur who is known for her work in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. She was born on August 27, 1968, in Jerusalem, Israel, and grew up in the United States. Koller received her bachelor’s degree in computer science and her master’s degree in computer science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before completing a PhD in computer science at Stanford University. Her doctoral research focused on developing algorithms for probabilistic modeling and reasoning. In 2008, Koller co-founded Coursera, an online learning platform that offers courses from top universities and organizations around the world. She served as the company’s co-CEO from 2012 to 2014 and has helped to lead its growth and expansion into new markets and areas of study. Koller is also a recognized expert in the field of machine learning and has made significant contributions to the development of probabilistic graphical models, which are used in a wide range of applications, including computer vision, natural language processing, and robotics.

Profile photo of Annie Feiwen TaoAnnie Feiwen Tao is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations at Horizon Robotics. Annie has over six years of experience in this role. Before Horizon Robotics, Annie worked at Baidu, Inc. for three years and nine months. There, they were responsible for data-driven strategic planning for Baidu’s search monetization system. Annie also successfully spearheaded a variety of top-priority initiatives, such as big data and public cloud business strategy development. In addition, they were extensively and expeditiously gathering and analyzing massive amounts of business data and information to advise and influence the decision-making of top management. Furthermore, Annie effectively managed an organization of ~5k personnel as the primary aide-de-camp to the SVP of Engineering. Annie also established connections and partnerships on the front of early-stage venture investments and research collaborations between Baidu and the Silicon Valley community including corporate partners, investors, universities, and start-up companies. Lastly, Annie launched a “Global Incubation Partnership” program and managed a cross-discipline team, comprising Strategy, M&A, core business units, and the Technology organization.

Miku Hirano, Cinnamon AI

Profile photo of Miku HiranoIn 2012, Miku Hirano co-founded Cinnamon AI to empower humans to be more productive and creative through the use of AI. Now, Hirano serves as CEO of the Singapore-based company. In the ten years since its founding, Cinnamon AI has developed a groundbreaking AI technology that turns unstructured data into actionable, structured data. One of its main products, Flax Scanner, is a cognitive document reader that uses machine learning algorithms to detect and retrieve important text elements in documents. With an accuracy of over 99%, Flax Scanner is compatible with digital and printed sources, including faxes, invoices, contracts, handwritten notes, PDFs, and Word files.

Carol E. Reiley | WSJ The Future of EverythingCarol E. Reiley is a prominent roboticist and entrepreneur who is known for her work in the field of healthcare robotics. In 2015, Reiley co-founded Drive.ai, a self-driving car company that was later acquired by Apple. At Drive.ai, Reiley played a key role in the development of the company’s autonomous vehicle technology, which has been applied to a wide range of industries, including ride-hailing and logistics. In addition to her work in the tech industry, Reiley is also a highly respected academic and has held teaching positions at several prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a frequent speaker on the topic of robotics and has given talks at conferences around the world. Reiley is a recognized expert in the field of surgical robotics and has made significant contributions to the development of robotic technologies for healthcare applications. She has founded several startups focused on healthcare robotics, including Tesseract Health, which is developing a robot for early cancer detection. Reiley has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including being named one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 and receiving the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Inspirational Woman Award in 2017.
Profile photo of Rana el Kaliouby, Ph.D.Rana el Kaliouby is an Egyptian-American computer scientist and entrepreneur who is known for her work in the field of emotional artificial intelligence (AI). She has served as the CEO of Affectiva since 2018 and has helped to lead the company’s growth and expansion into new markets and industries. El Kaliouby is a recognized expert in the field of emotional AI and has given numerous talks and presentations on the topic at conferences and events around the world. She has also been a vocal advocate for the responsible development and deployment of AI technology and has called for increased diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. El Kaliouby has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including being named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and one of Fortune’s 40 Under 40. She has also been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. Overall, Rana el Kaliouby is a highly respected figure in the field of emotional AI and a true innovator in her field. Her work has had a significant impact on the development of AI technologies and has helped to advance our understanding of human emotions and communication.

Wrapping

In conclusion, the top 10 female entrepreneurs in the field of AI represent innovation, leadership, and resilience. Their groundbreaking contributions have reshaped industries, shattered glass ceilings, and inspired generations. Through unwavering determination and visionary thinking, they’ve propelled AI to new heights, transforming the world we live in. Their accomplishments serve as beacons of empowerment, encouraging diversity and inclusion in the tech landscape. As we celebrate their achievements, let us recognize their invaluable impact and continue to foster environments where all individuals, regardless of gender, can thrive and contribute to the advancement of artificial intelligence and beyond.

[To share your insights with us as part of editorial or sponsored content, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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