As senior manager for strategic architecture at Boeing, Sheila has led the aviation giant’s digital transformation—using IBM Watson products across multiple parts of the company to gain business insights, improve quality, reduce cycle time and increase revenue.

What makes an AI project successful?
Informed business leaders. AI needs to be more than a catchphrase or buzzword that is used due to mass appeal. Having business leaders who understand the underlying concepts can help identify and prioritize business challenges that are best tackled by AI. Not every problem can be solved by AI. Likewise, some problems stay unresolved if they are never brought forward as a pain point for the business due to a lack of understanding of AI’s capabilities.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
In a word, diversity. Multiple studies show that less than one quarter of all data scientists are women. We also know, through empirical research, that many machine learning models exhibit racial bias or gender stereotypes in their algorithms. Ensuring women are engaged at all levels of data science, from hands-on practitioners to senior leaders, we have the opportunity to reduce risk in the decisions made from our use of AI.

Anything else you would like to share?
I would very much like to thank IBM for giving this unique group of women a voice. It is incredibly important to recognize the exceptional contributions from women in AI—for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned about reducing risk, fostering diversity of thought and instilling confidence in a group that is significantly underrepresented.

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