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Women in Tech, We Need More of You to Join the Machine Learning Revolution
Let’s talk about our current tech revolution and women’s involvement in it. These are troubling times, on multiple fronts. Not new news but disturbing nevertheless. Something we need to remind ourselves on a regular basis especially for those in the tech industry and tech leadership.
I was reading a few articles about this topic and would like to discuss two points.
“Women are more likely to be employed in jobs that face the highest automation risks. For example, 73% of cashiers in shops are women and 97% of cashiers are expected to lose their jobs to automation. The same report predicts that persistent gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) fields over the next 15 years will also undermine women’s professional presence.” The Guardian in an article entitled “Women must act now, or male-designed robots will take over our lives”
I dug a little more to find the source of that 97% and found a more complete list of all the jobs that could go away with automation in an article in The Telegraph entitled “These are the jobs most at risk of automation according to Oxford University: Is yours one of them?” Word to the wise, if yours is on the top of the list, start looking for a safer alternative by scrolling down, way down.
But back to women in tech, another quote, this one from a recent Wired Magazine article entitled “AI Is the Future — but Where Are the Women?”,
“WIRED worked with Montreal startup Element AI to estimate the diversity of leading machine learning researchers, and found that only 12 percent were women.”
It should be obvious that all groups need to be represented and involved in the AI revolution so that all inventions from all perspectives and the various side effects and ripples caused are caught, understood, and addressed. These are complicated issues and because they differ greatly by gender, economic status, geography, etc., we need all-hands-on-deck. Otherwise, the ramifications could be catastrophic and we may be stuck in a lopsided world and a recipe for a horrible science-fiction movie…
My Call to Action — Join the Tech and Machine Learning Industry
I’ve been in tech all my life and I can attest that it has historically been a very male-heavy industry. But it is changing. If you are on the fence whether to enter this field or not, I’d say the salaries are really good and the challenges extremely interesting. If you like solving problems using cunning and creativity, you’ll find this career very rewarding.
It starts with schools. The more diverse group of students we can get to join tech programs the better. So, I want to encourage anybody looking for an intellectually stimulating career to consider this field. There’s something for everybody — if math isn’t your thing, then there’s logic, this was my case. If it isn’t logic, then there are 100’s of other specialties in this field waiting for you! Don’t let any fears stop you — this field is too big for any preconceived notions.
I also imagine that joining a team made of 90% males isn’t always easy. That’s something that is slowly changing. It has gotten better, and it will get better especially if you join in. A big change in today’s work environment is remote work. I have been working remotely for quite a few years and it makes for a very safe and comfortable environment. You will be able to focus on problem-solving without the distractions of a large office environment. The company I work for, SpringML, is mostly remote with employees all over the world. We communicate with Google Hangouts and make our time together count by exchanging ideas, techniques, latest tools, and we skip the BS.
Another company that comes to mind is UnitedHealth Group. It is one huge organization with over 260,000 employees yet 25% of those telecommute successfully. We will see more of that as companies don’t want to hire specialists in every city along with the realization that remote workers often outperform their peers.
Data Science is Fun
I have a large number of walk-throughs on data science free for everybody. They are written in plain English and attempt to break down complex data science work into practical exercises. Find them at amunategui.github.io.
I have also a few Udemy.com classes on data science. If you are on the fence and want to get a feel for what data science is about in either R or Python, connect on Twitter and message me the class you want to take and I’ll send you a free coupon.
Connect on Twitter and message me any questions about classes to take. BTW, here are some of the most famous in the industry: My Six Favorite Free Data Science Classes and the Giants Behind Them.
If you want to find out if your job is on the cutting board, check out a web app I put up recently: http://www.viralml.com/jobs-at-risk-of-automation
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