IBM, at its Think Digital conference, unveiled its list of Women Leaders in AI, recognizing 35 exceptional female business leaders from 12 countries who are using artificial intelligence to drive transformation, growth and innovation across a wide variety of industries.  

According to IBM, these leaders were chosen because they and their companies are demonstrating the power of AI to help improve business and work for their customers and employees. From understanding and deriving insights from tens of millions of financial documents, to improving new employee onboarding experiences, to helping women have a better experience buying intimate apparel, these women leaders are shaping innovative AI use cases. Their AI efforts, says IBM, helped to increase customer satisfaction, improvements in employee retention, faster response times, significant cost savings, and more efficient processes.

Many honorees are demonstrating how the power of Watson's Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be used to improve efficiency in business processes and drive greater customer and employee experiences, says IBM. They are leveraging AI tools to build AI and supplement the data science skills shortage and they are proving, through a variety of AI applications, that human and machine collaboration can truly help improve how people work, adds the company. 

"Artificial intelligence will be at the center of business transformation over the next decade, and for us to mitigate bias moving forward, we need women and diverse teams at the forefront of AI. That's why we are proud to share the stories of 35 remarkable women who are driving progressive use of AI using Watson," said Michelle Peluso, IBM's Senior Vice President for Digital Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, who also serves as the global leader for IBM's Women's Initiative. "Their accomplishments are an inspiration to all of us."

To shed more light on diversity in AI, IBM recently teamed up with Morning Consult to conduct a new global study of more than 3,200 AI professionals. Notable findings of that study include:

  • 85 percent of AI professionals believe the industry has become more diverse over the past few years; of those, 91 percent think that shift is having a positive impact. 74 percent of AI professionals believing diversity hasn't improved say the industry must become more diverse to reach its potential.
  • While men and women working in AI were equally likely to be interested in math and hard sciences growing up, men working in AI were more likely to be told they had a natural talent for mathematics and hard sciences than women, while women were more likely to be told they had a natural talent for the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts.
  • Two in five AI professionals facing hurdles in implementing AI reported challenges in building AI tech or getting their organization to adopt AI.
  • Women in AI globally were nearly five times as likely as men to say their career advancement was negatively impacted by their gender.

The 2020 IBM Women Leaders in AI honorees are:

  1. Tiphanie Combre, Senior Director, AI Assisted Service and Automation, ADP (U.S.)
  2. Amy Shreve-McDonald, Lead Product Marketing Manager for Business Digital Experience, AT&T (U.S.)
  3. Mara Reiff, Vice President, Strategy and Business Intelligence, Bell Canada (Canada)
  4. Tammy Lucas, Vice President of Marketing, Best Western Hotels & Resorts (U.S.)
  5. Sheila Ambruster, Senior Manager, Strategic Architecture, The Boeing Company (U.S.)
  6. Claire Lucas, Head of Artificial Intelligence, Bouygues Telecom (France)
  7. Rosa Martinez, Cognitive Project Manager, CaixaBank (Spain)
  8. Michèle Brengou, Cognitive Factory Business Leader, Crédit Mutuel (France)
  9. Ashley Lawrence, Research and Innovation Project Manager, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (U.S.)
  10. Maiga Bishop, Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Dillard's (U.S.) 
  11. Jo Ann Tan, Head of Infrastructure, The Hartford (U.S.)
  12. Susanna Shen, General Manager—Corporate IT, Hong Kong and China Gas Company Ltd. (Hong Kong, China)
  13. Yui Ozawa, Chief, AI Promotion Team, its communications Inc. (Japan)
  14. Ryoko Miyashita, Manager, Customer Service Department, Customer Service Section, JACCS Co., Ltd. (Japan)
  15. Momo Tokumon, Assistant Manager, Web Sales, Japan Airlines (Japan)
  16. Karla Capela Morais, CEO and Founder, KOY–Law Intelligence (Brazil)
  17. Marisa Ferrara Boston, Automation and AI Lead Architect, Audit Technology, KPMG LLP (U.S.)
  18. Junko Kato, Manager of the Customer Service Administration Office, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. (Japan)  
  19. Donna Dodson, Chief Cybersecurity Advisor, NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S.)
  20. Kristen Bennie, Head of Open Experience, NatWest Group (U.K.)
  21. Lisa Bouari, Executive Director, OutThought AI Assistants (Australia)
  22. Melissa Molstad, Director of Common Platforms, Data Strategy and Vendor Relations, PayPal (U.S.)
  23. Linda Maruta, Head of Product, Pulsar (U.K.)
  24. Izumi Hatta, Manager, AI Skills & Dialog Group, Rakuten, Inc. (Japan)
  25. Amala Duggirala, Enterprise Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Regions Bank (U.S.)
  26. Carol Chen, Vice President for Global Marketing, Global Commercial, Royal Dutch Shell (U.K.)
  27. Monica Pedraza Garcia, Operations Director, Santander (Spain)
  28. Sabine Rinser-Willuhn, Manager, HR Systems, Siemens AG (Germany)
  29. Aarthi Fernandez, Global Head of Trade Operations Product, Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore)
  30. Jenni Barnett, Executive Director, Digital, Telstra (Australia)
  31. Nicole Hein, Technical Product Owner, Telstra (Australia)
  32. Lee-Lim Sok Keow, Deputy Principal, Temasek Polytechnic (Singapore)
  33. Paola Molino, Head of Transformation Programs, Vodafone (Italy)
  34. Atsuko Shinozuka, Manager, 3D Smart & Try and Omni-Channel Strategy, Wacoal Corp. (Japan)
  35. Piera Valeria Cordaro, Commercial Operations Innovation Manager, Wind Tre S.p.A. (Italy)