IPsoft Is ‘THE VOICE’ Of Women’s History Month Today
For ‘Women’s History Month’ in March, APPG AI is collaborating with Rajinder Tumber, one of the members from the Citizen Participation Task Force, to launch ‘The Voice’ – The Women’s History Month Series.
In this series, women from some of the world’s most prestigious organisations will be making their voices heard, in the attempt to attract more women into the world of AI and cyber security.
IPsoft Is ‘THE VOICE’ Of Women’s History Month Today
Welcome to ‘THE VOICE’ series for Women’s History Month, produced to help encourage more women to join the cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI) industries.
Today’s edition of ‘THE VOICE’ features Tracey Robinson, from IPsoft.
IPsoft is the world’s largest privately owned Artificial Intelligence company. It is primarily known for its enterprise-scale autonomic and cognitive solutions.
Tracey was interviewed in 2019, to share her experience of working in the AI industry. She is the Director of Cognitive Implementation AMELIA, North America.
Rajinder Tumber: Why did you join the AI industry?
Tracey Robinson: Throughout my career in various industries, AI has always fascinated me. I’d say it began during my work as a criminal intelligence analyst in the police force; I was always looking for ways to leverage AI to help investigate crimes and predict crime trends without bias. Following that, during my time in insurance and healthcare I was interested in learning how we could leverage AI to improve the quality of customer and patient experiences. I can see looking back that all these experiences fed my desire to improve all industries leveraging AI in its various applications.
Tumber: What do you feel you can contribute to the industry?
Robinson: I’ve been lucky to have had experience in many different industries both public and private sector. From law enforcement, to healthcare, insurance, startups, I feel I’m able to bring this broad range of hands on knowledge to the AI industry. This experience has enabled think practically about how we can apply AI to various sectors where it makes sense and generates impact and value.
Tumber: The ratio of men working in AI is significantly greater than women. What do you think women can bring to a male-dominated team/domain?
Robinson: I do believe that there needs to be a healthy balance in all sectors, not just in AI. Having a balance of not only women and men, but a mix of age, ethnicity and cultures in your teams brings a host of different points of view and approaches that come from different life experiences. It’s through these differing points of view that we can spark creativity and innovation, and help organisations spot and seize new opportunities.
Tumber: Being a minority in your team, what (if any) challenges have you encountered?
Robinson: I haven’t personally had challenges specifically being related to be a minority, but in general I welcome diversity as it is one of the factors to increase the retention rate for women in STEM professions.
Tumber: Would you say your career has been a smooth rise to higher positions, or has it had its dips and detours? Please elaborate.
Robinson: I wouldn’t say I’ve had many dips and I’ve been very fortunate to have remained on an upward trajectory in my career so far. What I would say however, I’ve taken multiple detours, quite deliberately, in order to learn more about various industries and sectors.
I’d say spending the first 12 years of my career in the police force gave me the confidence and skills to drive towards the positions that interested me, and not worry about whether I was female or whether I lacked experience in that sector.
When I was 18 my father said that no one will hire anyone with whole range of different jobs on their resume, they will think you can’t make your mind up. In my natural rebellious fashion, I decided to pursue the complete opposite path and gain a whole range of experiences! It’s a testament to how the job market has changed since my father’s time.
Tumber: Have you experienced any difficulty with making yourself heard during your career?
Robinson: Yes, not only in the somewhat more traditional industries such as insurance, but even in the cutting- edge AI and tech space, you can have difficulty making yourself heard if you don’t develop effective ways of communicating and building strong credibility. And it’s true, being a female in certain male dominated workplaces, you do have you have to work that little bit more to have your ideas heard!
Hopefully with many companies getting truly serious about diversity and inclusion, not just saying it but acting on it, we will see this improve.
Tumber: Within the workplace, do you feel women are being treated differently because they are female?
Robinson: Generally speaking, the gender pay gap is evidence that women globally are treated differently in the workplace. There is no escaping that fact.
Personally, I have experienced times in the past, where I was treated differently to the men for both good and bad reasons. Ultimately, it comes down to how individuals and companies deal with these situations that is most important. It needs to be deeply embedded in the companies culture that inequality in not okay or tolerated.
Also, I have always felt that I have a value add skillset, sometimes solving problems differently and seeing another perspective. If what I bring to the table isn’t valued or heard within the workplace, simply because I’m a women, then it’s a red flag that I’m not working for the right company or one that will be relevant in the future of work.
I encourage women to pursue leadership roles and involvement in the business world and recommend STEM — even if men dominate those professions. Females belong in STEM as much as anyone else does.
Tumber: Do you think more women should be encouraged to join the AI industry? If so, why?
Robinson: Absolutely! AI is a truly transformative technology for both the enterprise and for the world at large. It’s so exciting to be a part of something that can be of help in a humanitarian crisis and also have the ability to completely revolutionize the way we provide healthcare. It’s particularly inspiring to work in an industry that is helping people do more purpose-driven work without being overburdened with mundane tasks.
Tumber: How do you think more women can be encouraged to join?
Robinson: I think it’s really important to work closely with schools and colleges to make sure young women feel inspired and encouraged to pursue subjects geared towards the industry.
I also think there is a big role for companies to play in order to encourage more women to join the industry. Companies who are serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace for instance, is certainly a positive move towards attracting women and other diverse groups for that matter. And It’s also a win-win as Diversity and inclusion programs provide companies with the opportunity to tap into the strengths of their workforce.
Tumber: Do you have any advice to share for female professionals who want to get into the AI industry?
Robinson: One of the best pieces of advice I received at 19 years of age as a probationary Constable in the police. My first ever Sergeant told me if you want to be good at anything you must learn to ‘adapt and overcome.’
While this was targeted to policing at the time, his advice was specific to being resilient to rapid and constant change.
Drawing this back to AI (and life in general), the technology is evolving at a rapid pace, the competition in the market is fierce and the impact it will have on the future of work, healthcare and society at whole will be enormous. Every day is a new learning experience, especially when you’re operating on the edge of emerging technology and applying it in the field.
So my advice is to ‘adapt and overcome.’