Generative AI and the Gender Gap: Crossing the Great Divide


“Well it’s funny you should ask,” comments NightCafe Co-founder and COO Elle Russell. “One of the most important people in the AI art space, Katherine Crowson, is a woman. She invented VQGAN+CLIP, one of the first open-source, publicly available text-to-image art generation methods. It literally kicked off the entire AI art scene, but I don’t think many people know that.”

And herein lies the problem, while the AI world is filled with talented women like Katherine and Elle, they’re still in the minority, and their names, for the most part, are largely unknown. As a leader at one of the most popular AI art generators, housing some of the most amazing technologies being used by 10+ million users, Elle has a bird’s eye view of the AI industry as both an executive and a creator. And as a woman, she also sees the strides and struggles made in the boardroom and the studio.

“As a start-up, mentorship and collaboration are invaluable. As a female in a male-dominated industry, it can still be extremely daunting to open dialogue with titans of industry which is why we work so hard to provide the best opportunities for our female staff to make waves in the industry,” Elle adds. “More than half our team are wome​​n and we have a very flat org structure. This allows our female staff to have a massive input in the direction of NightCafe Studio and therefore the wider AI industry. Many of them come to our company because they feel more comfortable with and supported by our female leadership which builds trust and connection. They want to work with someone they can identify with who can also push their development and propel their careers, and AI, to the next level.”

And while Elle and her team at NightCafe work to change the tenor of things behind the scenes, the disparity among creators is just as great.

“Art is highly personal and expressive and as such, can be emotionally charged. With the easy anonymity of the Internet, many artists choose to hide behind gender-neutral usernames and pseudonyms,” says Elle. “While this may offer an early sense of freedom and confidence to the creator, it not only robs them of the opportunity to form more authentic relationships and partnerships early on, it also does a disservice to women creators and the world of AI by diluting the perceived pool of female talent and leadership that’s really out there.”

It is clear that AI’s impact will be, or some may argue, already is, global and pervasive. So it’s important that those involved in AI are just as diverse as the population that will be impacted by it. Women are a huge part of this equation, and getting more women involved in AI, in both its development and use, will project this industry further at a much faster rate. So what’s Elle’s advice as a female leader at the forefront of the AI creator frontier?

“Be bold, be brave, and be involved,” she says. “More and more women of all ages are adopting these new technologies and creating absolutely magnificent collections of AI-generated artwork, and they’re going beyond that. They are deep-diving into third-party research on how different AI models work, and learning the different ways of influencing them to get the output they desire. They are enhancing their skills dramatically. They are very active participants in the community and help educate and encourage others to learn and adopt these technologies also. It’s really amazing to witness and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all.”

Published First on GritDaily. Read Here.

By Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack’s editorial team.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Cottonbro Studio; Pexels; Thank you!

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