Celebrating the women of IBM AI Ethics

Celebrating the women of IBM AI Ethics





























Two women writing on glass windows

For more than 100 years, IBM’s founding principles have inspired efforts to promote equality, fairness and inclusion in the workplace and society. The company has lived the value of “respect for the individual” by championing employment practices that reward ability over identity and that make work more attainable for all.

In 1935, approximately twenty years after IBM was founded, it began hiring women into professional roles. Three decades before the US Equal Pay Act of 1963, IBM’s CEO, Thomas J. Watson Sr., stated, “Men and women will do the same kind of work for equal pay. They will have the same treatment, the same responsibilities, and the same opportunities for advancement.”

Through the years, many women have held leadership roles at IBM, including former CEO, Ginni Rometty. Women have played key roles in initiatives throughout the organization, including the rise of AI.

“Women are as capable as anybody else to contribute to the technical development of AI, and they also care deeply about the impact of AI on people and society. This combination is exactly what we need now, to design and build a future with purpose, where technology supports human values rather than the opposite. An increased presence of women in AI will also make it fairer and more inclusive. A multi-disciplinary approach to AI education is fundamental to help women understand that this is a great match for their talent and passion.”  -Francesca Rossi, IBM Fellow, AI Ethics Global Leader, IBM Research

As IBM continued to research and develop AI, it became clear that along with the positive aspects of the technology, there were also potential issues that needed attention. “AI will have a transformative impact on everyday life, business and more. As with other technologies, there are ethical components that must be followed to build systems based on trust,” says Justina Nixon-Saintil, Chief Impact Officer and AI Ethics Board member at IBM. “In our historical experience at IBM, we know women play a fundamental role in shaping the future. That’s why two women IBMers led the way when we established our AI Ethics Board, and that’s why we are using our technology and expertise to empower more girls and women in ethical AI, among many other areas.”

Since 2019, the AI Ethics Board has been co-chaired by two leaders: Christina Montgomery (Vice President, Chief Privacy and Trust Officer) and Francesca Rossi (IBM Fellow, and AI Ethics Global Leader). Their unique backgrounds and views have helped the Board instill governance and a culture of ethical and responsible technology throughout IBM. 

The AI Ethics Board is comprised of leaders from across the company, including many esteemed women leaders. Supporting the work of the AI Ethics Board and its members are its AI Ethics Focal Points. IBM is incredibly fortunate to have many women in leadership at this level as well.

Along with establishing policies and practices around AI ethics, the AI Ethics Board sponsors workstreams, which bring together experts from across the business to address key business challenges, questions and opportunities. These workstreams often include women as executive sponsors.

A team of female leaders from the AI Ethics Board and IBM’s AI Ethics Project Office drew on experts from across IBM to publish this point of view on foundation models. They also collaborated with IBM Research and watsonx.governance™, led by Heather Gentile, Director of watsonx.governance Product Management and AI Ethics Focal Point. Together, they developed the AI risk atlas, which helps readers better understand the risks of working with generative AI, foundation models and machine learning models.

“In this unprecedented new era of global AI innovation, women are leading the charge towards acknowledging that the importance of innovation is as much about its impact as it is about invention. This crucial work in confronting and mitigating the immediate and long-term risks that AI poses to our society is setting the standards for how we, as a global community, approach the integration of AI into our lives.” -Christina Montgomery, IBM Chief Privacy & Trust Officer

For six years in a row, IBM has been listed as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere. This recognition reflects IBM’s commitment to a strong governance structure and a culture of ethics, embodied in its AI Ethics Board and AI Ethics Focal Points. It also honors the strong women leading IBM forward.

Learn more about AI Ethics at IBM

Read more about women in technology at IBM

Read the IBV study on women forging the future of AI

Learn more about IBM creating an inclusive culture

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Published at Mon, 25 Mar 2024 16:00:05 +0100

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