There’s been a lot of discussion in recent times around the need to get more women into AI, with the primary focus on developing AI systems which represent both men and women in order to reduce bias. Broadly speaking, the cause of making AI more inclusive for women is widely supported – but it’s the nuances of the debate that are a little more uncertain.
Currently, the discussion is bound by a narrow view of the types of skills required to break into the AI world, namely coding. There’s a whole host of skills required to develop AI systems, from designing the user interface and the user experience, product development and the system testing and training required to successfully launch an AI solution.
Our broad aim to achieve a balance should be to encourage women of all skills and backgrounds to enter into the technology space, to demonstrate to them what a rewarding and varied career it can be – even if you’re not a developer. When designing AI systems for enterprises, I take all of the following into consideration: the user experience, the customer journey, the technical architecture, data analysis, information management and the processes and procedures currently followed. This design process for AI systems requires everything from in-depth user research and UI design to technical analysis – so a substantial part of this process requires non-technical skills.
As someone with a background in arts who essentially fell into the tech scene, I’ve experienced first-hand the importance of combining technical and non-technical skills to create well-designed and crafted end-to-end AI solutions. Transferable skills such as project management, business analysis, design and user research can be applied just as easily to AI as any other technology, but the challenges are arguably greater because of the fast-advancing field that we’re working in. The wider ecosystem needs to advance alongside the technology, which requires innovative thinking – for example designing the user experience for a system that no longer requires a user interface.
So I’d like to take this opportunity as a call for arms. If you are a woman with non-technical skills and are looking for an exciting, challenging work environment where you will continue to learn and grow your expertise, then consider applying your skills to this exciting, cutting edge industry. It’s so much more than coding.