With International Women’s Day upon us, the time has come to devote some thought to the continued losses that tech and science industries suffer as a result of close-mindedness towards women in STEM fields. Here at Stradigi AI, we know the power that comes from having a diverse team of open-minded professionals, and we’re not the only ones in the tech industry realizing that power. Being successful on the forefront of a technological frontier like AI requires teams to know how to work together and build on one another’s unique strengths; a company — and an industry at large — cannot hope for success if it neglects 50% of the population.
Diversity is the key to success
Women bring unique insights that reflect in the success of those teams that incorporate them; As reported in National Geographic’s profile of gender representation in STEM fields, the Human Genome Project succeeded because of the diversity of background, experience, and culture that the project built. Furthermore, international studies performed in multiple industries have shown that gender-diverse businesses outperform competitors with homogenous teams. It’s STEM industries in general, unfortunately, that have taken the longest to integrate these findings, meaning some of the most important businesses in the world are missing out on the incredible benefits to come from building diverse teams.
However, you don’t even need extensive studies to deduce how having a diverse team of open-minded individuals would be a strength. A team of homogenous minds will produce solutions from only one perspective. To solve complex problems, you need a team made up of members with diverse outlooks and approaches who can also appreciate and cooperate with those different than themselves. Tech companies that do not actively encourage and support women in their workspaces or fail to sustain a diverse workforce are selling themselves short of the potential that comes from the synergy of varied backgrounds.
Meet the woman in charge
Few understand this truth better than Stradigi AI’s CSO and co-founder, Carolina Bessega. Having built, along with the executive team at Stradigi AI, a diverse team of industry-leading professionals, Carolina has a unique insight into the power of an open-minded, respectful, and storied team. Her successful approach is informed by years of growth and striving in traditionally male-dominated fields. In building Stradigi AI’s team, the executives she looked for individuals whose talent had flourished alongside attitudes that were compatible with teamwork, thinking outside the box, and continual growth.
The personal journey that led Carolina to found Stradigi AI is a fascinating tale of perseverance and achievement in science and innovation. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a specialist’s degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics, she went on to earn a Ph.D. in Fundamental Physics, focusing on computational physics and stellar evolution. Her accomplishments in her research opened doors for her, leading to her a position at the Universidad Central de Venezuela where she led the Physics department in its studies of Non-linear Phenomena.
The research she led at the university prepared her for her future in the development of new technologies; she guided the laboratory in its studies of particularly difficult-to-predict events. The laboratory’s research resulted in the drafting of models for the prediction of complications in patients with Chagas disease, a notoriously complicated disease; better understanding of the formation of spiral galaxies (like our own;) and the creation of prediction tools for avalanches. With this focus on predicting the seemingly unpredictable, Carolina Bessega came to co-found Stradigi AI equipped with an appreciation for and expertise in taming the complex. What could be more complicated than determining the best way to build a thriving team of complex, unique individuals?
Breaking gender norms
Carolina’s team is not simply built on diversity; diversity is part of their power. The problems they encounter in the development of cutting-edge tech are viewed through a multi-faceted lens, brought into focus by communication. For Carolina and her team, keeping an open mind to the experience, knowledge, and ideas of others contributes not only to personal growth but professional success as well.
A snapshot of the team Carolina built at Stradigi AI shows that it breaks the curve in a number of metrics, surpassing industry trends in balance of executives (43% are women) lab researchers (42% are women,) and overall team composition (39%). For comparison, the combined percentage of women in STEM fields in Canada has only very recently reached 22%, representing only a 2% climb since 1987, according to research reported by Maclean’s.
The results of supporting the growth of women in tech go beyond just a single benefit; the industry – and, therefore, any company in the industry — is less just, less productive, and less effective when it is homogenous instead of diverse, close-minded instead of forward-thinking, and rigid instead of adaptable. The resistances to change have to be challenged if companies want true innovation and ground-breaking solutions.
Carolina Bessega is hard at work as always in this dynamic industry and will be speaking at a number of upcoming events. Keep up with her work and catch her at the following:
- SxSW’s C2 panel – March 12th in Austin
- Women Techmakers – March 17th in Montreal
- Journée Tendance Réseau Capital – March 22nd in Quebec City
- Symposium on the applications of AI in medicine – Université de Montréal – May 4-5 in Montreal
- AGC Partners’ 2018 Information Security & Broader Technology Growth Conference – April 16-17 in San Francisco