I am giving up.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Now that we are past Women’s History Month, I have decided to step down from the leadership of Women in AI Ethics™, the initiative I started in 2018 with the explicit mission of elevating lesser-known and marginalized voices in this space. I am sure we can all agree with the brand-endorsed sentiment that one month is more than adequate to recognize all the contributions that women have made and continue to make to humanity’s progress.

After volunteering significant years of my life to this mission, I believe it’s time to hand over this important work to a well-rested cis white man, rather than dumping it on the shoulders of yet another utterly exhausted woman or POC. Who better to lead on issues that affect the most marginalized than those with access to power, privilege, and unlimited funding?!

I have put together a profile of the ideal candidate based on traits of the most successful leaders in the tech and tech-adjacent non-profit industry.
– White or white-adjacent, ideally male
– Experienced in finding a comfortable middle ground on all ethical issues
– Savvy at delivering PR-friendly soundbites and non-controversial speeches
– Track record of successfully hiring diverse leaders in secondary positions
– Profiled by NYT or similar mainstream news media
– Affiliation with a prestigious institution or big tech
– Lived experience with said issues is a nice-to-have but not at all required

It will be difficult to give up years of unpaid work, sustained only by messages from women and non-binary people whose lives were changed because of the connections they made at one of our events. I will miss everyone who reached out to let me know they felt heard and saw themselves reflected in my introverted brown self. And to those who keep demanding that I must do more and be more — I respectfully decline.

As I rebook all the family vacations that I cancelled over the years, I will take some time to reflect on why I didn’t take a break sooner. I blame everyone who supported me on this thankless journey and encouraged my delusion that I could be instrumental in helping people outside the techno-elite bubbles be heard and included in conversations related to AI that affect them. In hindsight, this work is best left to men with the right expertise, connections, and networks, which allows them to fundraise effortlessly, take well-earned vacations, and the results, well…speak for themselves.

I will not be sharing any details on the selection process, which will be held behind closed doors, nor divulge who will be involved as our past (naive) willingness to be transparent, unlike other leading organizations has only led to more criticism. I will also not be taking any questions at this time but an AI agent will be activated to address your concerns during this transition.

Thank you.
Mia Shah-Dand
Founder, Women in AI Ethics

PS: Happy April 1 to everyone!