Founder of Black Women in AI offers strategies to increase representation

Angel Bush, who founded an organization to increase the presence of black women in technology, spoke at the university’s Richter Library on Tuesday about ways companies and educational institutions can promote diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

She grew up wanting to create a robot called Usher that serves hot cocoa.

But much later, after working so hard in the oil and gas industry, Angel Bush was at a technology conference when she looked around and saw quite a few faces that looked like hers. Since these are the people developing technology to automate decisions in the future, Bosch saw this as a problem.

Bush told a group of students, faculty, and staff Tuesday afternoon at an event hosted by the University of Miami Institute for the Data Science, Computing and University Ethics Programs. “People often say AI is the fourth industrial revolution, and at that moment, I said, ‘Sure, you can’t have a revolution without black women.’”

Shortly after, in 2020, Bush left her job at Shell in Houston, Texas to establish Black women in artificial intelligence (AI), an organization that hopes to educate, engage, incubate and empower this segment of the female population in AI jobs. Today it has members on five continents, and Bush hopes to open smaller college classes to combat the industry’s small number of black women. She also has relationships with big companies like Amazon, CapitalOne, Nvidia, and others who want to attract more black women to their companies.

Bush spoke to a group of more than two dozen people at the Otto G. Richter Library and made clear that diversity, equality, and inclusion programs are only meaningful if leaders are willing to confront the harsh realities of the small proportion of all minorities among their companies. ranks.

“People need to ask questions like ‘Where are you as a company or organization? Do you have 1% or 12% minorities in your organization? Where do you want to be? What is your ability to become what you say you want to be? And why would you want to do that? She noted. “Before you can access diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, this self-reflection needs to happen.”

Once these conversations occur, realistic goals are set, and new employees are hired. Bush added that leaders then need to be open to giving these new hires shared power, authority and influence. Often there is a discussion about letting people [of color] Sit at the table.” “A seat at the table without power and authority only takes up space.”

Finally, Bush said companies need to build trust among their existing employees, so that new workers know their leaders are committed to the mission of inclusion and helping their new employees succeed. Bush said she often reminds business leaders of the importance of retention and how employees will tell their friends and colleagues about a positive experience.

During her talk, Bush asked the audience about their own experiences. What prompted them to attend? And why diversity, equality and inclusion matter to them. Graduate students at Miller College of Medicine Alex Sanchez Covarrubias and Ayodele Omotoso attended the talk with their advisor, Sophia George, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, and both said Bush’s message resonated.

“In my experience in computational biology, there are very few minorities who practice data science, and I believe institutions should encourage minorities to join the field in general, so that it is more representative,” said Covarrubias, a doctoral candidate in cancer biology. “Sometimes when I’m troubleshooting, if you ask someone else for help, there are other things they notice I’m not doing. So, as you get more variety in the field, you have different backgrounds that can help you use new methods to reach your goal.”

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