Preparing for the future needs to be an immediate focus of every organization and leader. Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and other advances in technology will continue to significantly impact our workplaces, dramatically changing the dynamics between humans and machines. In this rapidly-shifting environment, ensuring that women continue to thrive has never been more important.

Given the rate at which women are graduating from our universities and colleges, Canada’s future workforce will be more female than ever before.

Given the rate at which women are graduating from our universities and colleges, Canada's future workforce will be more female than ever before. And yet 85% of the machine-learning workforce, responsible for developing many of the world's new technologies, is male. As AI creeps into all spheres of our lives, fuelled by algorithms reflecting the biases of their creators, women risk being relegated to traditional roles.

Take the recent rise in personal digital assistants — think Siri, Alexa, and others: all with names that are far more female than male, all with default settings of female voices, and all reinforcing, some say, a woman's place in society.

Seize opportunities to advance women as innovators and leaders

Including, leveraging, and advancing women at all levels of Canada's organizations are critical drivers in the pursuit of greater innovation, productivity, and performance. Companies that are stuck in traditional paradigms will be left behind. Those who seize the opportunities with women as innovators and leaders will enjoy the long-term competitive advantages.

This International Women's Day, let's all redouble our efforts to create gender-inclusive workplaces where all talent can thrive.

Tanya van Biesen
Executive Director, Catalyst Canada