Behind the Scenes: 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics list

WAIE Selection Committee — 2023 list


The first “100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics” list was published in 2018 to raise awareness about the talented women working hard to prevent and mitigate the harms from reckless development and deployment of AI systems. Since then, WAIE has published an updated list with 100 new names every year. As we announce the list for 2023, here are some insights on the process and lessons that our selection committee learned along the way.

Our approach

The challenging work of reviewing the shortlist of nominations is done by our wonderful selection committee who volunteers its time and expertise every year. To avoid conflict of interest, the members of the selection committee are not considered for the list. Every selection committee member thoroughly reviews each nomination and confidentially casts a vote for each nominee. The total number of votes per nominee is then tallied and nominees with the most votes are selected for that year’s list. This year we had over 400 nominations and while everyone is immensely talented, after much deliberation, we were able to narrow it down to the final 100. We highlight new names every year and those who don’t make the list are still included in our online directory and considered for future lists.

When the first list came out, there was some criticism from those committed to retaining the status quo who conflated ‘lowering of barriers (to the nomination process)’ with ‘lowering of standards’. We respectfully disagreed and have kept the nomination process for WAIE list intentionally simple. We don’t require lengthy essays or recommendation letters because the work of these incredible individuals speaks for itself. Also as a small volunteer-led organization with limited resources, we understand and appreciate the onerous burden of excessive processes on marginalized groups. We believe that lowering the barriers to entry is vitally important for equitable representation of diverse voices in historically white male-dominated tech spaces.

Meet the Selection Committee:

Amy Chou is a seasoned client services executive with deep experience in the financial services, tech, and education sectors. Amy joined our Board of Advisors in the early days of WAIE, while also heading up partnerships for a leading non-profit focused on AI Education, AI4All. We were fortunate to have her steadfast leadership through our formative years. Her guidance has been invaluable in keeping us moving forward throughout the WAIE journey and evolution to our current state.

Ebitie Amughan is a senior recruiting professional who brings her deep knowledge of talent acquisition and diversity and inclusion to create unique talent solutions for business partners and hiring teams. Ebitie is a fierce champion for diversity, inclusion, and equity and she has worked within distinguished companies like Microsoft and Pinterest.. In her two years on the WAIE Board and the selection committee, she has centered the lived experiences of people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latiné, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women in a male-dominated industry and offers a pragmatic lens to address the multidisciplinary diversity gap in the tech workforce.

Alaric Aloor is the Founder, CEO & CTO of Archon Security, an IT security firm dedicated to digital security mandates of confidentiality, integrity and availability. We appreciate our male allies who support the WAIE mission by volunteering their time and expertise. Alaric is an information technology expert who has served on the WAIE Board and the selection committee for several years. His passion for meaningful representation in tech combined with his passion for privacy, a critical dimension of AI ethics, has been invaluable in helping us stay on top of issues that are relevant to our global community.

Chhavi Chauhan is a tireless advocate for accessible and equitable human-centric healthcare ecosystem. This year, we made one important change and invited Chhavi, a past list nominee, to the selection committee. Chhavi has been a warm and welcoming presence in the WAIE community for many years and was recognized for her work in this space recently. She brought a refreshing perspective to the selection process, shaped by her professional expertise, close community ties, and unique lived experiences.

Teemu Roos is an expert and educator in AI, machine learning, and data science. Our friendly professor from the University of Helsinki, Teemu is renowned for making AI education accessible to everyone through ‘Elements of AI’, his popular online course. He has served on the WAIE Board and selection committee for many years and paved the way for WAIE’s partnership with Finnish Center for AI (FCAI). His thoughtful questions have inspired many deep conversations on relevant issues of our times and helped crystallize our mission.

Mia Dand is the founder of Women in AI Ethics and Lighthouse3, a technology consulting firm. She is exceptionally talented in bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to deploy large scale complex technology solutions and projects. Mia’s role on the committee is to facilitate the selection process and resolve any tiebreakers.

What did we learn?

The growing number of talented women from multi-disciplinary backgrounds in the responsible and ethical AI space is an encouraging sign during these dystopian times but it’s also a reminder that our effort to elevate lesser-known voices in this critical space is far from done.

The tech industry has a diversity problem and continues to struggle with lack of representation from marginalized groups. Tech priorities are determined and dominated by the global north, which includes the United States, Canada, and almost all the European countries. We’ve noticed a similar bias in the AI Ethics space as well and we wanted to elevate voices from non-western regions and address the urgent need to proactively engage and invite participation from regional communities.

Another issue we noticed is that non–English-speaking experts are often overlooked in ethical AI discourse. They have less visibility in search engines that prioritize English language content. To overcome this bias, we will need to prioritize inclusion of content from regional sites and in local languages.

One recurring question that has come up for discussion over the years is this — should individuals employed by ethically questionable companies be recognized or is this just another form of ethics-washing i.e. feigning to be ethically conscious. This wasn’t an easy decision, but we came to the agreement that rather than penalize those from marginalized communities with limited choices, we’d rather support their desire to do ethical work under difficult circumstances. On a related note, we also gave equal credence to volunteers on crowd-sourced projects and assessed their worthwhile contributions during our decision making.

The ethical and responsible AI space can feel very exhausting as these experts face a steady stream of problematic technologies. By publishing this list, we want to provide more visibility to those doing meaningful work while also encouraging more folks to join this fight. This list is a vital part of our ongoing effort to balance the odds in favor of those striving to keep us safe from the harms of AI and giving us hope that a better future is possible.

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