Elevating Women Entrepreneurs: Highlighting the AI Pathway

Remember October last year when the smart folks over at the Alan Turing Institute flagged down a storm about gender imbalance in AI investment? Yep, no shockers there, but boy, do the hard numbers make it real.

That eye-opening report dropped a bombshell – femme-led startups scored a meager 3% of AI startup VC cheddar over the last ten orbits around the sun. While it zeros in on the UK, rest assured, this is a global script.

Now, with generative AI skyrocketing, the dialogue on diverse founder viewpoints to combat bias in this burgeoning tech is louder than ever. It’s a no-brainer – the gaping gender gap in AI spells trouble, way beyond a casual “oops.”

But hey, it’s not just the moolah flowing in that’s at fault here, nor is it an AI-exclusive dilemma. The tech realm at large is grappling with this, with deep-seated industry culture and a trickle of women in STEM adding to the conundrum. What’s crystal, though, is the sheer importance of backing and representation, shining a light on both the highs and the hurdles along the way.

“Female founders in AI? Yep, we’re a rare breed,” chuckles Dr Angie Ma of Faculty AI, amidst a chat with TNW. “It’s tough, not gonna lie—the toughest gig of my life. But it’s the ride that counts, meeting incredible souls along the way who’ve pitched in, no strings attached.”

A “Great Time for AI” at UCL

Flashback to Dr Ma’s uni days during the dot-com boom – a PhD in physics on her plate, fresh off a crash-and-burn venture into online shopping databases and a brief, ill-suited flirt with law. Enter her UCL chapter, “a breeding ground for AI enthusiasm” she recalls, shared with the minds behind DeepMind.

Profile photo of Dr Angie Ma

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Fast forward to 2014, Dr Ma, alongside Marc Warner and Andrew Brookes, brings Faculty AI to life, with a noble quest to empower businesses with safe, “human-led” AI. Think big names like Siemens and British Airways on their client roster, and a stellar AI solution minimizing bed-blockers in Welsh NHS units by a whopping 35%. “At its heart, it’s about amplifying human decision-making, not sidelining it,” Dr Ma points out.

Prioritising Personal Development and Networking for Female Founders

Dr Ma is candid about the roadblocks women face in tech but is quick to underline the shared journey of all founders. “A safety net of sorts, this founders’ group I’m in, we pow-wow monthly, has been a game-changer over these seven years,” she smiles. “Sure, it’s a time eater, but the returns? Priceless. Women, listen up, don’t shortchange yourself—networking and skill building are your best allies.”

Co-Founding a Tech Startup: “It’s Like a Marriage”

Would the venture capital scenery have looked different for her if she flew solo or sans male co-founders? Who’s to say? But for Dr Ma, it’s less about gender and more about the co-founder chemistry. “Think marriage but in the startup realm. Growth, shared visions, weathering storms. Tough but pick your co-founder like your life depends on it, because, well, it kinda does.”

Looping back to uplifting women in AI, Dr Ma shares a nugget of wisdom. Chatted with a young woman who looked up to me for career advice in AI, anchored by a workshop I once thought fizzled. “Her story hit home—it underlined the silent echoes of our actions. Small gestures, big impacts. So, on we march, with openness and authenticity, to light up paths for the coming wave of women in AI.”

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