Gillian Tans, President and CEO of Booking.com and Corinne Vigreux, Co-founder of TomTom have spoken on the need to get more women into tech roles to future proof modern companies. Both companies use AI and machine learning in all areas of their businesses and want to see more women working in these fields.
Speaking on Monday 3 June at the annual FORTUNE Most Powerful Women International Summit in London, Gillian Tans said that ‘technology in the future will be the driver of social and economic change,’ and that the lack of diversity amongst those developing technology must be addressed. Corinne agreed: ‘biases are a big problem. […] Having all the algorithms being programmed by white men is not a good idea’.
Corinne expressed concern at the quality of tech education: ‘I’m always a bit flabbergasted by the fact that governments don’t realise, the whole world is going digital, everywhere, and […] the education system is just not coping. The fact that in most countries, you’re not really getting tech education early on in schools is what is keeping me awake at night. In the future the divide is not going to be between rich and poor, it will be between the digitally literate and the digitally illiterate’.
In their commitment to getting more women into tech roles, TomTom have opened a coding school which requires no qualifications to encourage diverse applicants. They currently have 30% women in the school and are working on attracting more women to reach a 50:50 gender split. Meanwhile, Booking.com are funding scholarships to support and advance the prospects of women in STEM careers, and recognising women across the world who are transforming businesses, industries, communities and society using technology through their Technology Playmaker Awards.
Asked what they were doing to ensure the older generation were involved in technological developments, Corinne Vigreux said TomTom were committed to continually training their existing workforce for the future
Gillian and Corinne were speaking at FORTUNE Most Powerful Women International Summit in London, as part of a session titled Future Proof: AI, Machine Learning and the Teachable Moment, moderated by Claire Zillman, Editor and Co-chair of FORTUNE MPW International Summit London.