Overcoming barriers for women working in AI

4 minute read

It’s no surprise that being a woman in business is challenging.

Often, you are not treated as an equal to male colleagues and it can take you longer to rise to the top – sometimes by putting in double the time and effort to reach the leadership stage in your career.

I’m currently studying the Oxford Executive Diploma in AI for Business and its area where you would traditionally expect to come across less women as it’s a male-dominated field. But the fact it’s accredited and offers a seal of credibility and authentication is exactly why women should study it. The diploma enables us to demonstrate our competency, stand out from the crowd and inspire others that they can do the same.

Looking back, I must admit that I did feel a bit intimidated at the thought of studying at Oxford. Why? Well, it’s Oxford! I did find myself questioning whether I’d made the right choice. Perhaps because I was also looking for an artificial intelligence programme that specifically focused on the business aspect. I wanted to advance my knowledge of the technology to build resilience, both as a leader and a professional in general, not as a technical specialist.

But if I could go back in time and speak to my former self before I began my studies, I would say: ‘You have 100% made the right choice. I know you are afraid, but you’ve definitely chosen the right path. This programme, this place, this campus will be a really formative part of the next 10-20 years of your life. Embrace the opportunities and pursue your ambitions, because Oxford Saïd is totally the right place to support you to do just that.’

And I can reassure you, you don’t need to worry about the focus being too technical! The diploma gives you the practical frameworks that enable you to face your organisational challenges head on, whether that relates to HR, Operations, Marketing and so on. It provides you with a multi-faceted perspective on the effective implementation and governance of AI in business, and the right questions to ask to ensure it is used ethically.

Crucially, the Diploma in Artificial Intelligence for Business encourages you to be curious and to really question what AI is, how to harness its potential and how it can be exploited. This open approach to learning is really refreshing and eye-opening. It shifts your mindset to a holistic view and one of constant curiosity, which enables you to unlock greater value.

As well as academic learning, the diploma also offers a highly unique opportunity to learn from other practitioners and professionals at the forefront of pioneering AI in their industries. For example, the wide range of guest speakers throughout the modules has cultivated my interests further and I have been mesmerized by their talks. One of the latest speakers was Emad Mostaque, Founder and CEO of Stability AI, and I’m sure we’ll hear amazing things about this company one day. Another favourite talk was from the CEO of Signal AI. His insights into the use of data on such a large scale and the capabilities of AI, as a result, were intriguing and captivating. This learning across industries is so valuable and helps you to innovate for competitive advantage in your own industry.

Of course, I couldn’t reference the learning on the programme without highlighting the amount I have learned from my classmates. Every one of them has intrigued my thinking in some shape or form, and I will never forget the positive impact they have had on my time at Oxford. It’s true that the Oxford experience is not limited to the confines of the classroom, it goes far beyond this. The diploma is well crafted and delivered by the Oxford programme team, who keep us on our toes from morning till evening, providing opportunities throughout this holistic experience to create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I feel very fortunate and privileged to have been awarded the 2022 Women’s Scholarship to study this programme. There are many women in this world who are underprivileged, and some aren’t granted the same opportunities as others. So, whilst I sometimes feel that I don’t deserve it as much as other women out there, I’m committed to using this opportunity to play an active part in discussions around gender equality and representation.

I would go so far as to say that this diploma is absolutely critical for any women who is passionate about AI, wants to affirm her position in her company, both from a technical and management perspective, and to excel in her field.

I hope by sharing my story, that other professionals, and particularly women, are inspired to pursue this programme too. After all, AI isn’t just a new field or shiny new technology, it’s the future.

I look forward to returning to Oxford to study future programmes. My journey has only just begun!