IBM’s annual list of Women Leaders in artificial intelligence includes women from 18 countries who serve in a variety of roles.
IBM has released the 2021 edition of its Women Leaders in AI, adding 40 people from 18 countries to the growing ranks of its annual program. In 2021, highlighting women leaders is more important than ever because of pandemic-driven challenges that are affecting women’s role in business, IBM said.
One effect that COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace is a reduction in leadership representation: Fewer women are holding senior or C-level leadership roles in 2021 than they were in 2019, IBM said.
“As AI adoption continues to accelerate, we believe that diverse teams are needed to help build and implement trustworthy AI that can help mitigate bias and deliver explainable outcomes,” said Ritika Gunnar, vice president, Expert Labs, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software.
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The 40 women included in this year’s list “were selected based upon the ways they are using AI as a transformation agent to help drive results for their organizations and the employees, customers and citizens they serve,” IBM said.
Of the 30, IBM singled out five women working with AI for special mention:
Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council
The Ad Council creates advertising campaigns to raise awareness of pressing social issues, and under Sherman’s guidance has started using IBM Watson Advertising Accelerator for two campaigns: It’s Love Has No Labels diversity and inclusion initiative, and the “It’s Up To You” COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Manoela Morais, Chimka Munkhbayar and Helen Tsai of Agrolly
Morais, Munkhbayar and Tsai were the winners of IBM’s Call For Code 2020 with Agrolly, an IBM Watson-powered app designed to help farmers in developing countries improve production and minimize risks. Since winning in 2020, Agrolly has expanded into additional countries and is providing hands-on training for rural farmers in Brazil, India and Mongolia.
Poonam Verma, head of security engineering, the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation
Verma oversees DTCC’s cybersecurity services in its role as a provider of post-trade infrastructure for global markets. DTCC has built a standardized and simplified way to process securities transactions more safely, and under Verma’s watch added IBM services to improve cyber detection capabilities.
Ekaterina Ostankova, product manager at Lloyds Banking Group
Ostankova was a critical part of Lloyds’ AI adoption in the face of COVID-19, which used IBM Watson Assistant to simplify customer support. In addition, Ostankova has been behind other conversational AI projects at Lloyds that help “support customers by resolving ever more complex queries through messaging and web channels.”
Annie Shu, manager of strategy and innovation, Westpac
Australian bank Westpac developed a digital coach named Wendy to help teenagers prepare to find their first jobs. Wendy was championed by Shu, who also led the service design and innovation development teams behind Wendy, which uses IBM Watson natural language processing technology to make the digital avatar “engaging and relatable.”
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To learn more about the 40 women who IBM named as leaders in AI innovation for 2021, check out the full list here.