Women in AI

Internationally recognised for her work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, University of Canterbury Professor Tanja Mitrovic would love to see more young women pursue a similar career.

She believes that in future we could each have our own AI helper to help us achieve our full potential.

“It would follow us throughout our lives and provide lifelong learning,” Professor Mitrovic explains. She’s been at the forefront of AI in education for almost 30 years, in a male-dominated world.

An offhand comment to her high school class first galvanised her determination to succeed in this field. “We had a male teacher for computer science, and in one class he said ‘girls cannot be programmers’.  I said to myself, ‘I’ll show him!’”

She has been showing him ever since. This year she became a Distinguished Member of The Association of Computer Machinery, an honour awarded to less than 10 percent of members worldwide.

She believes the gender gap is an ongoing issue in computer science and software development nationally, with more diversity sorely needed.

“Software developers work in teams and often lack the soft skills, such as communication and collaboration, needed for this. Additionally, AI should reflect the needs of all of society, not just males.”

Currently the professor is collaborating on a project to measure soft skills of people working on NZ software industry, and to help build
an online platform to improve those skills.

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