AI4Good: Canadian Lab Empowers Women in Computer Science
Released Nov. 6th, 2019

Doina Precup is applying Romanian wisdom to the gender gap in the fields of AI and computer science.

The associate professor at McGill University and research team lead at AI startup DeepMind spoke with AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz about her personal experiences, along with the AI4Good Lab she co-founded to give women more access to machine learning training.

Growing up in Romania, Precup attended a high school that specialized in computer science and a technical university. She didn’t experience gender disparity in these learning environments.

“If anything, programming was considered a very good job for women, because you did not need to be working in the fields,” she explained.

It made the gap in Canadian universities and companies even more noticeable. At McGill, Precup saw that female students were hesitant to speak up or pursue graduate studies.

Together with Angelique Mannella, CEO of AM Consulting and an Amazon employee, Precup was inspired to start the AI4Good Lab in 2017.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Aimed at improving women’s access to advanced AI and machine learning, the AI4Good Lab brings together 30 women from across Canada every spring for a seven-week workshop
  • Workshop participants take classes, hear from speakers, visit companies and work in small groups to create projects.
  • This year’s projects ranged from identifying fake news to using a café’s food supplies efficiently to helping people manage chronic pain.
  • To hear Precup’s best sci-fi book recommendations, listen to the podcast for her guide to the genre.
  • Visit the AI4Good Lab website or Twitter to learn more about participants’ projects and to apply to next year’s workshop. And visit Precup’s Google Scholar page to see her most recent publications.

Tweetables:

“Emphasizing the creativity and the fun in computer science and algorithms is really important, for everybody” — Doina Precup [04:30]

“I also noticed that people were sometimes afraid to speak up in classes, even if they were really good at based on their exams and their assignments and their projects” — Doina Precup [05:43]

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