Culture

Local women in tech are making strides in artificial intelligence

Photo courtesy of Christina Morillo

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is one of the fastest-growing markets with a 54% growth rate annually, and is quickly becoming a huge part of people’s everyday life. From video games to phone applications, many people use A.I. more than they may think. 

A.I. is some of the most cutting-edge technology, but it’s the people behind it that are the driving force of this field. A.I. is a male-dominated industry, with women making up only 26% of the A.I. workforce

Locally, there are many women involved in A.I., making great strides in the industry. 

Dr. Karen Doty is a part of the GIMM (Games, Interactive Media and Mobile Technology) faculty at Boise State.

Because A.I. is a male-dominated field, Doty said that being a woman pursuing or experiencing this career can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. 

“In my experience, being a woman in a male-dominated field has proven to be a driving factor to continue to aim to exceed expectations,” Doty said. “One of my proudest moments of recent was when a student exclaimed to me that she felt she, too, could achieve her career while also being a mother. She said seeing that I could do it helped her in realizing it was possible for her as well. This can also be said for working parents of all genders. It is possible to achieve both goals in life.”

A. I. is an up-and-coming field with great potential and frequent new discoveries. 

“I am so excited to see my students making waves in areas that honestly have not had a lot of

traffic before. Since so much of what we do is cutting-edge, our students and faculty get a chance to make decisions in this industry that have the potential to guide many future projects,” Doty said. 

Brilynne Funderburg is a fourth-year GIMM student at Boise State studying in the world of A.I. and is wanting to pursue a career in animation. 

Women in tech, A.I.
Photo courtesy of Christina Morillo

The student experience of learning A.I. is an exciting journey, as new skills and interests are being made and discovered, according to Funderburg. 

“There are so many avenues of creation in technology. Technology is a tool, just as much as a pen or a brush or a table saw is, and once you learn how to use it, the only limit is your own imagination. You can make so many interesting things with it,” Funderburg said. 

STEM fields can be intimidating to young women who are interested in the field, as women have historically been discouraged from entering these particular occupations. Boise State students, staff and faculty said they have worked to give students a welcoming environment for those who have the desire to study STEM. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by classmates who respect me as a person. Lots of women are interested in STEM fields, but many are discouraged from pursuing them because of the pushback they experience,” Funderburg said. “My classmates have been very welcoming and supportive, which makes me hopeful that the same will be true in a job setting.”

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