female data scientist, woman leading team

Halt the female tech skills drain before it’s too late

female data scientist, woman leading team

By Teodora Gavrilut, Chief Operating Officer, Creatopy

To read the headlines, you would think that we already live in a fully digital, automation and AI-driven world. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It would seem that we are woefully under-equipped to meet the promise of a tech-powered future and worse still, we’re failing to do much to change the situation.

Despite a push towards digitisation as a result of Covid, The Learning and Work Institute stated that the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE in the UK has dropped 40% since 2015. It also revealed that 70% of young people expect their employers to put them on a path to digital skills, but only half of the employers surveyed were able to provide training.

Further, a report from Kaspersky suggests that half of women in the tech sector believe Covid-19 has actually delayed their career progression. When you consider that women make up less than a quarter of the UK’s core-STEM workforce and fill only 17% of tech jobs, there appears to be a dramatic reversal of fortune.

Why should gender be important at all in an industry that, at face value, is created specifically to remove the human from the equation?

Quite simply, a lack of diversity stifles innovation, holds back progress and leads to poorer technology. The insight behind technology and process design is critical. The tech is simply a tool – it takes a collective made up of different perspectives to make sure that tool is effective. To redress the imbalance, we need to create an industry that provides an inclusive pipeline of talent at every level.

We can’t wait until women enter the workforce either. Gender stereotypes in tech need to be tackled at school, with support from the business community to give young women a context for a career in technology. Educational settings need to go beyond the expected path and introduce more workshops and apprenticeship programmes so students can move beyond the theoretical.

This is not without precedent. InnovateHer is a scheme in the North West of England that has been running tech educational programmes for girls for four years now, already reaching over 1,000 girls across 50 schools. There is now an InnovateHer Online portal so girls can access the scheme remotely.

At the other end of the nation is Brixton Finishing School, the London-based accelerator that helps underserved young talent get past the traditional barriers to acquire skills in digital, creativity and marketing.

But learning doesn’t stop at the office door. Tech is going to keep evolving and skills have to change to match. According to The Future of Jobs Report, by 2022, 80% of UK companies will be using machine learning. But we’re not talking about technology replacing skilled workers. It’s an evolution. As tech changes, it’s going to change the business models it serves along with it. Roles will change and new jobs will emerge. A combination of cutting-edge technology and leading human creativity will be a heady mix and a strong driver of competitive advantage. The skills gap risks all of this.

Automation and advanced tech landscapes present an opportunity, but only if business and education are willing to meet the challenge halfway. Arguably, we don’t even have a skills gap but a skills drain – the disconnect isn’t even staying the same, it’s getting bigger. We all need to play an active role in putting the structures in place so that talent can thrive. To misquote a well-known phrase – if we don’t build it, they won’t come.

About the author

Teodora Gavriluț is the Chief Operating Officer of Creatopy. With a solid marketing background of over 15 years, she handles the company’s internal affairs. By combining analytical thinking with creative processes, Teodora believes she’s fortunate to have built a career out of her love for technology and passion for marketing.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside, AI

Explaining AI: It doesn’t have to be rocket science

Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside, AI

By Teodora Gavrilut, COO at Creatopy

As a society, we’re brilliant at curbing industries before they get out of control and cause a problem. Look at tobacco and asbestos. Both nipped in the bud.

Except of course, we didn’t get ahead of those problems. And while there are constant discussions around how we will ensure AI is controllable, regulated and used to build a better world rather than a worse one, I doubt these will be any more fruitful than discussions and campaigns in other scenarios. The EU has taken steps towards regulation, but of course this has no impact on the wider global landscape, though it could certainly put some boundaries in for EU businesses and developers.

More serious perhaps though will be consumer fears around AI once they realise what it does. Advertisers were happy for consumers to stay in the dark around how they use their data, and now that Apple is asking them for permission to carry on - they’re saying no.

However, AI is now a reality: it is already everywhere, and in future it will be in every part of our lives, from home to work to our favourite local takeaway. As individuals and businesses we can ensure that we are not part of the problems facing AI in some very simple ways.

Transparency

Communiticating what AI does clearly - and investing in ‘explainable AI’ is a key part of creating a sustainable AI-driven future. Explainable AI is a programme able to reach complicated conclusions from data and execute actions, learning from past experience and evolving to become more efficient and useful - all while being able to show how it got there. Previously, you might put in some data into an AI and something would come out, and it would be really unclear how it arrived at the conclusion. Recognising that this leads to opportunity for prejudice, for mistakes and - from a developer point of view - lots of complicated reprogramming, many businesses are developing AI that is transparent about how it arrives at any given conclusion.

It makes sense both from a transparency and trust point of view, and from a simple logistics one: if an AI goes wrong, we want to be able to see where that happened. Otherwise, disasters like the Microsoft chatbot that became racist after just 16 hours of learning conversational skills from Twitter are not only inevitable, but hard to rectify within the existing software.

The point of AI is to make lots of small decisions for us and execute those actions in order to maximise outcomes. We must therefore always be able to understand why and how an AI reached any point in its programming.

Value

AI drives value for both businesses and customers. Take Google Ads - this technology has enabled advertisers to target audiences rather than keywords via complex understanding of how individuals use Google. Not only do consumers googling for answers find the responses they need, and products or services relevant to their query, but businesses see far better returns on search advertising spend.

Our technology at Creatopy can automate, scale and test creative and enhance it for optimisation of results. This means that consumers see creative they’re more likely to enjoy, and businesses enjoy greater ROI on their campaigns - something especially crucial for businesses looking to achieve maximum goals within a set budget in an increasingly content-driven landscape.

AI is one of our greatest innovations within computing. However, as businesses we must ensure we take our responsibilities with such advanced technology seriously. By both explaining to customers how it helps them, and ensuring we can explain it ourselves, we can mitigate against concerns and AI errors as we move into a machine-led future.

About the author

Teodora Gavriluț is the Chief Operating Officer of Creatopy. With a solid marketing background of over 15 years, she handles the company’s internal affairs. By combining analytical thinking with creative processes, Teodora believes she’s fortunate to have built a career out of her love for technology and passion for marketing.

 


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube