UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence


Women Shaping the Future of AI

3 November 2020

The UCL AI Centre, together with Women in AI (WAI) hosted an afternoon to discuss and explore careers in AI


Women in AI Logo with details of the event


On Thursday 22nd October 2020, the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence, together with Women in AI (https://www.womeninai.co/) and 10 UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) in AI from around the country gathered for sold-out online event aimed at encouraging and inspiring women to consider a research career in AI.

The event was opened by UCL’s David Barber, the Director for the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence where he gave an overview of a what a PhD and a CDT is, and introduced the participating CDTs.

The event then moved on to a keynote talks by Feryal Behbahani, a Research Scientist at DeepMind, Yasemin Bekiroglu, Research Fellow at UCL and Assistant Professor at Chalmers University. Both speakers talked about their own research journeys and lessons that they learned along the way – as well as insights into life in Academia and life in Industry. 

Feryal's Career Path
"So, I just want to tell you that there's so many amazing opportunities presented to you today. And I guess it might feel very scary if I choose one, does it mean that's the end? That's the field I have to, sort of, you know, stick with. But no, I think you can always change and at least for me, that worked out well”- Dr Bebahani


After a short break, the afternoon resumed with a panel session, chaired by Marc Deisenroth, the co-Director for the UCL Centre for Artificial Intelligence.  The panel was made up of 5 women working in AI: Rula Awad (AI product Manager and WAI Ambassador in the UK), Marzieh Saedi (Research Scientist at Facebook), Federica Sarro (Professor of Software Engineering at UCL) along with our keynote speakers, Feryal Behbahani and Yasemin Bekiroglu. This session was divided into two: the first half was more introductory, and then the second half was interactive and the audience was invited to ask questions.

Women in AI Panel

At the end of the afternoon, we opened up ten separate breakout rooms: one for each of the participating CDTs from around the country – including the two based at UCL:

  • Foundational Artificial Intelligence (UCL),
  • AI-enabled Healthcare Systems (UCL),
  • Safe & Trusted AI (Kings College London),
  • Interactive Artificial Intelligence (University of Bristol),
  • Biomedical Artificial Intelligence (University of Edinburgh),
  • Natural Language Processing (University of Edinburgh),
  • Machine Intelligence for Nano-electronic Devices and Systems (University of Southampton),
  • Accountable, Responsible and Transparent AI (University of Bath),
  • Artificial Intelligence and Music (Queen Mary University London), AI for the study of Environmental Risks (University of Cambridge).

Participants were able to swap rooms freely, ask questions and engage in discussions with the hosts from each CDT, as well as each other. The main room was also kept open for participants to speak to each other and socialise.

Overall, we think this event was a great success and we are already talking to the CDTs and Women in AI about doing this again in the future. If you missed the event and would like to see recordings of the welcome, keynotes talks or panel session, please check out our Youtube channel, where the recordings are now available: http://www.youtube.com/c/UCLCentreforArtificialIntelligence



Sarah Bentley
CDT in Foundational AI
UCL Computer Science