AI Ethics Mentoring & Externship Programs for Women and Non-Binary People

AI Ethics Mentoring & Externship Programs for
Women and Non-Binary People

“The unfolding impacts of COVID-19 reveal just how many communities of women, and the families that depend on their earnings, are bearing the brunt of the longstanding gaps and underinvestment in our workplace laws, economic and social infrastructure, and policy choices that failed to center the needs of women, people of color, and families with low and moderate incomes.”

National Women’s Law Center

According to the ILO report 2018, women do the bulk of unpaid care work in homes across the world, a workload that has intensified during this pandemic. This includes older women caring for frail partners and grandchildren. For those women able to work from home, the sudden need during this pandemic to home-school children has created a double (or triple) shift.

In a study by the The National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender and non-binary people had double the rate of unemployment than that of the general population. This pandemic will further reduce their access to paid opportunities.

Fewer opportunities for women and minorities translates into lower ethical accountability for companies as power shifts to the latter. It’s also during times of crisis that humanity is most at risk from unethical use of powerful technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Women in AI Ethics™ is a global initiative by Lighthouse3, a strategic research and advisory firm based in Oakland, California. While the mission of Women in AI Ethics™ initiative is recognition and empowerment of women, we understand that non-binary and trans community is also significantly at higher risk.

We believe that it’s our moral imperative to support women and non-binary folks in AI Ethics and empower them with more resources during this critical time so we can continue to make progress towards a more ethical and equitable society.

Towards this end, Lighthouse3 has launched 2 new global initiatives for a limited time to provide support and guidance for vulnerable communities, which include women and non-binary people:

  1. Mentoring: Provide access to expert guidance from an extensive network of helpful mentors. Learn more
  2. Externships: Provide access to short-term opportunities that allow externs to apply their talents/expertise in a professional setting. Learn more

Everything you need to know about the mentoring program:

For Mentors

Qualifications for Mentors: : Expertise in diversity and/or ethics in AI/technology as demonstrated by their background, education, work, or industry role. Interest and passion for helping other women and non-binary people in this space. We welcome mentors of all genders, orientations, and ethnicities.

Mentor Responsibilities: It's the mentor's responsibility to provide their availability while keeping in mind their mentee might be in a different time zone.

For Mentees

Qualifications for Mentees: Should identify as a woman or non-binary and have recently lost a job/opportunity in an AI Ethics-related field, or need help navigating these new challenges. We are emphatically trans-inclusive. Priority will be given to candidates that are a part of historically underrepresented communities in tech or those who have recently lost their jobs.

Mentee Responsibilities: It is the mentee's responsibility to schedule the mentoring sessions based on their own and mentor’s availability. Every mentee is expected to provide a short write up on their experience at the end of mentoring engagement for publication in the AI Ethics weekly newsletter and blog.


Expectations: Mentors and mentees are expected to show up on time, be engaged, and communicate clearly when there is a scheduling conflict. Mentoring sessions are meant to provide support and guidance for the mentee during a difficult transition. These are not recruiting or hiring sessions.

Recommended Duration of Sessions: Minimum of 45 mins per session. We encourage the mentor and mentee to spend 15 mins post-session to recap the conversation and next steps.

Minimum Commitment: Both mentor and mentee commit to 3 sessions scheduled within 6-8weeks with the option to extend if both agree to it.


We will match mentors to mentees, facilitate the introduction, and provide guidance for productive mentor-mentee sessions. Note: We strive to accommodate diverse languages and different abilities. Please include any additional accommodations needed in the application form or email DiversityinAI@gmail.com

How it Works


We want to make sure this is a good match so while we are responsible for pairing the mentor and mentee, we inform both mentor and mentees in advance with whom they have been matched and give them 3days to decide if they wish to accept or reject the match.

The mentors have a very busy schedule so their time slots get filled quickly but we will try our best to match you with the mentor of your choice but please be open to others who are just as talented and interested in helping you succeed. Sometimes mentors and mentees may need to opt out because of change in their circumstances and in that case, we will remove them from the program and find you a different match.

Mentoring sessions are designed to provide you guidance and support during a very challenging time. These are not meant as job hunting opportunities. That said, it is our hope that the guidance from these sessions will help you be successful in your career or chosen path in AI Ethics.

We encourage men to sign up as mentors but this program is specifically intended to support displaced women so we only accept women and non-binary people as mentees at this time.

We announce the pairing for a cohort of 20 mentees at one time. We operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. You and your mentor will receive an email as soon as you both are paired and you both have 3 days to accept the pairing or reject it. The mentoring program will run for approximately 3 months from late April to August 2020.

Mentorships are completely free for both mentors and mentees. However, we welcome support in the form of sponsorships and donations. Feel free to reach out to us at DiversityinAI@gmail.com if you have more questions.

Everything you need to know about the Externship program:

Enrollment Process: All interested candidates will receive an application form and they will need to provide supporting documents that highlight their interest and expertise in this space.

Acceptance Criteria: Applicants should have expertise and/or interest in responsible and ethical adoption of AI/technology as demonstrated by their professional background, education, work, or industry role. They should have faced significant setbacks in their academic or professional career due to the Covid-19 pandemic including but not limited to below:
- Students enrolled in masters or PHD program who lost their internship or job offer
- Professional women and non-binary people who have recently lost their job or significant professional opportunity
- Priority will be given to women and non-binary people in disadvantaged communities around the world.

Note: Submitting an application does not guarantee placement in the externship program. Placement depends on the applicant’s qualifications, availability of sponsor funding, and availability of relevant projects.

Duration of Externship: The externships are typically shorter than internships. These will be virtual and last for 4-6 weeks depending on the sponsoring company. There is no requirement to travel or be in a physical office.

Benefit to the Extern: It is the mentee's responsibility to schedule the mentoring sessions based on the mentor’s availability. Every mentee is expected to provide a short write up on their experience at the end of mentoring engagement for publication in Women in AI Ethics™ newsletter and blog.

Benefit to Sponsor: Access to talent and expertise in AI Ethics that isn’t typically available for a short duration, infusion of ethical insights into their organization by an expert, and delivery of a solid project at the end of externship.

Scope of Externships: The externs will discuss and decide on a research, analysis, or best practices project with their sponsor company. The key requirements are that 1) Project has to focus on one or more of the 6 dimensions of AI Ethics*, 2) Project should be delivered within the agreed upon time frame for the externship, and 3) Extern is expected to provide a short write up on their experience at the end of their internship for publication in the AI Ethics weekly newsletter and blog.

6 Dimensions of AI Ethics

The exponential growth of AI and potential for significant harm necessitates a comprehensive and inclusive approach. After an extensive evaluation of the AI ecosystem and implications of AI, we have developed a holistic framework for AI + Ethics with 6 key focus areas that consider all ethical implications of AI beyond just technology. It is intentionally designed to expand critical discussions on the ethics of AI to include diverse perspectives from non-technical disciplines.


    Mitigate disruption of human lives, rights, roles, and relationships as AI replaces humans through automation & human-like systems.


    Promote use of AI for social good, through access for marginalized groups, mitigation of environmental impact, and development of public interest policies.


    Ensure that data for AI/ML is gathered (surveillance), shared (consent) ethically and secured against unethical uses (security).


    Ensure AI/ML models are transparent, explainable, fair, and accountable so they do not reflect and amplify the biases of their creators.


    Provide guardrails and guidance for development of commercial autonomous systems, artificial agents that are ethical and safe.


    Establish safeguards against threats to digital and physical safety through deep-fakes, bots, autonomous weapons, and bio/neural AI.

These dimensions are not mutually exclusive but rather this framework allows us to address each significant issue individually without losing sight of the interconnectedness of the different parts. For example: AI automation causes jobs displacement so while it’s important to look at ethics of intelligent systems, we must not lose sight of the displaced workers who will need skills and training to navigate this new world.