International Women's Day 2024: How can we make AI a force for inclusion?

Colourful graphic showing University of Oxford's log and 7 illustrations of women alongside the title International Women's Day .

The Vice-Chancellor's International Women’s Day 2024 Event 

Gender equality: How can we make AI a force for inclusion?


To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey hosted a discussion online and in person at Pembroke College on the role AI could play in progressing gender equality. The panellists explored the opportunities and challenges AI presents and what is needed to effectively harness AI for society. They included:

  • Kelsey Doerksen – PhD student in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems, Data Science Research Fellow at UNICEF and Visiting Researcher at European Space Agency, Machine Learning for Air Quality at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, President of Oxford Wom*n in Computer Science Society, MPLS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. You can read Kelsey's thoughts on the potential for AI here.
  • Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE, Co-founder of Stemettes, 2022-2023 President of the British Science Association, was voted 2020’s most influential woman in tech in the UK, Oxford University alumni
  • Professor Helen Margetts, OBE, Turing Fellow and Director of the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, Professor of Society and the Internet at the University of Oxford
  • Professor Anne Trefethen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (People and Digital), Professor of Scientific Computing


The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges presented by generative AI for advancing gender equality, exploring issues such as the potential impact on the future of work, the problematic outcomes of training AI on data based on human basis and the toxic working culture and lack of diversity in tech. Panellist Professor Helen Margetts said,   

AI holds up a mirror to society in all sorts of different ways because machine learning, the kind of workhorse of AI, is trained on data based on human decisions. It highlights biases that have been there for a very long time. Because if there's one thing that humans are really bad at, it's not being biased. 

The panel stressed the socio-technological aspect of AI, and the need to attract people from outside STEM, especially women and gender minorities to work in AI if opportunities are to be realised. Encouraging women to have confidence in the skills and knowledge they have to offer, Anne Trefethen, Pro Vice-Chancellor (People and Digital) said,

Don't think you have to be a scientist to work in AI because there's a really broad need to have interdisciplinary teams.

Watch the recording