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Ipsotek Global Marketing Manager Rayan Cherri talks to WeAreTechWomen

By: Rayan Cherri, Global Marketing Manager at Ipsotek, an Eviden business | Sep 14, 2023

My route into working within the fields of AI and security started in some respects without a specific long-term plan.

I took on a part-time job as I was completing my studies, not anticipating that I would stay for an extended period.

However, what stood out to me and made my stay beyond what was initially a part-time arrangement, was the industry’s challenging, fast-paced, and dynamic nature. The constant learning, collaboration, innovation, and the opportunity to drive change in critical aspects of our lives were extremely compelling factors.

The fact that technology and AI are shaping our daily lives and the future of our world was a significant draw for me to remain. On the security side, the sense of contributing to saving lives, safeguarding the public, and making a global impact further solidified my decision to pursue a career within these fields.

Overcoming stereotypes

While thankfully (and finally) the stereotypes associated with working within AI and security as a woman are becoming less prevalent, subtle indications can still be sensed in conversations, attitudes, and behaviours. One common stereotype is the notion that women are incapable of leading or engaging in complex technical discussions.

This is akin to the old ‘joke’ about men struggling to explain the offside rule in football to women – an analogy rooted in the idea of multiple rules leading to an overall outcome, which reinforces such stereotypes (PS: I know very well what an off-side is!).

Another stereotype involves women’s perceived inability to handle leadership roles. However, many women I know have proven this notion wrong through their hard work and ascent to such positions. Effective leadership should transcend gender across all industries, defined by the requisite skill set rather than gender.

Encouraging gender diversity

Research indicates that women often feel less confident applying for jobs if they don’t feel that they meet all of the listed requirements (I have been there myself). In this respect, clear and realistic job descriptions (i.e. avoiding vague skill set demands) can encourage more women to actually apply in the first place.

Networking is another factor. Men tend to be more proactive in outreach, such as through job fairs. Targeted and proactive outreach efforts to women can therefore inspire and attract more of them to fields such as AI and security.

Representation and promotion also play a role. Women seeing other women in influential positions foster aspirations to pursue similar careers. Additionally, training HR personnel and interviewing panel members in implicit bias – both gender and racial – can contribute to fairer selection processes.

The role of mentors

Related to the above, I think the role of mentors (of any gender) can be extremely important. My sister is my greatest mentor. She was a powerful yet humble woman, finding her way through journalism and storytelling in very rough environments, but she didn’t let anything stop her from being where the story is despite the difficulties she faced as a woman.

My current boss and many of those I’ve had before were men who also supported me as a female in this industry and drove my confidence further by recognising hard work and trusting me to take on leadership responsibilities. Having men who support women in the fields of AI and security can also be a very strong drive for women to continue striving for equal rights and access to opportunities.

Key skills to succeed

In my experience working as a woman within AI and security, I think staying abreast of the rapid changes in these dynamic industries is crucial. The world’s rapid transformation, driven by the contributions of these respective fields, necessitates staying attuned to its demands.

An openness to learning from others and acknowledging personal mistakes is equally vital. The wider tech industry is a continuous learning environment, demanding receptivity to knowledge and flexibility to adapt. An affinity for technology is therefore fundamental, with curiosity about new technologies fuelling the energy needed to thrive.

However, being tech-savvy doesn’t mean being exclusively immersed in the digital realm. One can maintain a grounding while still embracing technology. For example, while I work full-time in AI and security, I also run an online vintage store called Centcherri (excuse the pun) – a contrast that I love!

In fact, some of the most rewarding aspects of working in AI and security include glimpsing into the future, the intellectual stimulation derived from transformative potential, and the opportunity to interact with inspiring individuals actively shaping this potential through innovation.

If you work in technology more broadly, you know that you are part of what’s changing our future, and you can be a contributor to how such change is made. Even if it’s little, it’s something.

What has changed and what lies ahead

The fields of AI and security have changed drastically from earlier this year to today if we look closely, let alone over the last few years! The introduction of AI allowed many technologies to boom and fast-forwarded the growth, accuracy, and development of many offerings out there now.

It has been amazing to witness this and also be part of the change. I recall days when the most advanced and fascinating feature in security was a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera because it could move to different zones! Now, with advanced AI technologies, you can identify a missing child in a busy scene, tag them and track them across multiple cameras until you find them!

Moving forward, I think digitalisation will be all around us. Smart spaces are already being built using various technologies for use cases such as smart traffic management, stadium experiences and operations management in public and busy environments such as airports and railway stations. The way AI will be used in these cases will transform our everyday lives for a safer and more secure world.

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Originally published on WeAreTechWomen

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