Machine learning could create more tech opportunities for women

Machine learning, the artificial intelligence technology behind Tesla’s self-driving cars and Amazon’s Alexa, has great potential to put big data to work. But the growing field may have another bonus: providing new pathways for women to get into tech. 

“Not everyone has to have that PhD in computer science,” senior machine learning recruiter at Microsoft Amanda Papp mentioned to me in conversation at the International Machine Learning Conference in New York. “We have folks that have more physics backgrounds or biomathematics or permutational biology. [Machine learning] doesn’t necessarily have to have that standard comp-sci path.”

As machine learning teams grow, it could lead to more job opportunity at tech companies for women with majors in physical science, biology, and math. While there aren’t oodles of women in these fields of study, there tend to be more equivalent numbers of men and women in them than in computer science. And as machine learning jobs grow, it’s likely the overall number of students in these subjects will too.