Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the fastest growing areas in the tech industry. It is increasingly being used to determine life-altering decisions, like creditworthiness, healthcare eligibility, and who gets hired for jobs. Yet, like a majority of the tech industry, women, especially women of color, are severely underrepresented, which can lead to biased technology that fails to fully reflect the communities they serve.
In fact, according to the 2021 Artificial Intelligence Index Report, women only make up 18 percent of the AI workforce in the United States—including AI researchers, data scientists, and AI engineers. Although this is an improvement from 12 percent in 2018, this is not nearly enough to influence and shape new products that work for everyone.
Break Through Tech, an organization focused on women in tech, has developed a program to bridge these gaps. In an innovative, first-of-its-kind approach, Break Through Tech is partnering with Cornell Tech, UCLA, and MIT—three universities with top-ranked AI programs—to host an 18-month program for women, with a special emphasis on women of color, from surrounding colleges and universities. These students focus on data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence over the course of the program, receiving the training, experience, and mentorship they need to land competitive roles after college—roles that traditionally go to men.
Pivotal Ventures supports organizations focused on fast-tracking women into the field of technology, including artificial intelligence, with the goal of women representing 30 percent of technical leadership positions with hiring decision power in the next 5-10 years. Our continued partnership with Break Through Tech is getting us one step closer to that goal—and the larger goal of increasing women’s power and influence in the United States.
After a successful pilot last year with Cornell Tech, Break Through Tech AI is expanding their 2022 program to partner with UCLA and MIT this summer. The partnership with Cornell Tech will continue. The program will be looking for eligible students based in the New York, Los Angeles, or Boston metropolitan areas.
Break Through Tech AI plans to expand to more cities, including a virtual option by 2023. Site selection is based on areas with the largest market share of women, especially women of color, in CS+ majors (including math, statistics, physics, economics), have a leading university in AI, and a tech ecosystem for mentorship and employment. By 2025, BTT AI will reach the equivalent of 10 percent of the total female computing grads in the United States, fundamentally improving composition of the AI field.
Students in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston can apply for Break Through Tech AI here, with applications open until April 28th. Companies and nonprofits who want to help bridge the talent gap in AI can sign up to learn more about getting involved here.
For more on today’s announcement, visit the Break Through Tech press release here.
Photo courtesy of Break Through Tech AI