AI Leaders Share Path to Success with Rising Female Stars

by Kristin Bryson

Luminaries and up-and-comers in the artificial intelligence community came together this week to support the participation of women in AI and computer vision research and share the impact they are making on our world.

Computer vision is one of the hottest areas of AI research. Scientists around the world are driving breakthroughs in object recognition, image understanding, video analysis, 3D reconstruction and more.

Despite the field’s growth, however, the percentage of female computer vision faculty members and researchers in academia and in industry is still relatively low, according to the Women in Computer Vision organization.

That’s changing, according to WiCV committee member Samaneh Azadi of the University of California Berkeley.

Azadi gave the opening remarks at the event, a dinner sponsored by NVIDIA that gathered more than 150 people attending the Women in Computer Vision workshop that took place in conjunction with the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event paired mentors with female students whose research submissions were accepted by WiCV.

More than 150 men and women attended the Women in Computer Vision mentoring dinner hosted by NVIDIA on July 25th.

“It’s very exciting to see that women’s participation in WiCV is growing fast,” said Azadi.

fAccording to Azadi, 110 women submitted their work to WiCV this year, a 44 percent increase over last year. In addition, WiCV accepted 82 posters from women, 61 percent more than last year’s 51 posters.

The dinner’s other featured guest speakers included Dr. Andrea Frome, Dr. Olga Russakovsky and NVIDIA’s own Shalini De Mello.

Each woman shared stories about their career paths and lessons learned along the way.

Frome, most recently with Clarafai, and well known for her previous work at Google Brain and with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, stressed the importance of finding opportunities that align with their personal interests and beliefs.

Dr. Andrea Frome, a Google Brain alum and data scientist for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, addressed a roomful of female students that are rising stars in the AI and computer vision field.

“There are so many opportunities out there, so you have to choose that which speaks most closely to your own personal truths,” said Frome said. “And, I’ve also learned, personal truths can change over time, shaped by each experience.”

Russakovsky, a professor at Princeton and co-founder of AI4All, a non-profit organization dedicated to removing bias from AI, imparted three key pieces of advice: “get lots of mentors, celebrate each accomplishment and make time to take care of your mental and physical health.”

On the topic of mentors, Russakovsky emphasized the importance of diversity.

“It’s completely critical that you build a support system around you,” said Russakovsky. “It’s not just about finding other women you can relate to, but really finding a diverse group of people of all ages, both men and women, who can support you.”

Olga Russakovsky stressed the importance of mentors, celebrating successes and taking care of one’s health.

De Mello, a research scientist at NVIDIA working on co-pilot technologies to help make cars safer, encouraged students to look for opportunities in AI where they can make a difference.

“It feels good to know that my work can make an impact,” said De Mello.

NVIDIA researcher Shalini De Mello told students at the Women in Computer Vision dinner that it feels good to know that the work she’s doing is making a positive difference.

Note: Want to hear more from Olga Russakovsky and her view on AI? We’re featuring her story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She’s the first in our “I am AI” series profiling today’s AI leaders. You’ll hear from those behind the AI revolution, in their own words, what motivates them and why they do what they do.