Irina Rish speaks on role of women in science

Irina Rish knows all about being a woman in science. She spent a lifetime in a largely male-dominated field – computer science – building expertise in problem-solving in her native Russia and at IBM in the U.S. to become one of the world’s top experts in artificial intelligence.

Now an associate professor of computer science at Université de Montréal and a core research member at Mila, its affiliated institute for machine-learning, Rish understands first-hand the contributions women like herself can make in her field.

So today, to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Rish will participate in an online discussion via Zoom at the virtual annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The discussion is open to viewing by the general public; registration is required.

Rish will be joined by Baiyu (Helen) Zhang, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Coastal Environmental Engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

The discussion will be hosted by Claire Samson, vice-president of programs and planning at the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Dominique Bérubé, vice-president of research at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Over the course of the noon hour, Rish and Zhang will address key issues in Canadian research, talk of their own careers spent navigating largely male-dominated fields, and detail their experiences as top experts in their fields.

“It’s a great opportunity to discuss exciting possibilities as well as challenges faced by women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers,” said Rish, one of seven women among the nation’s 17 Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC).

“Recently, we’ve see an increase in the number of women choosing science and technology careers, which is an encouraging trend,” said Rish. “Whatever your age or ambition, there’s never been a better time to get involved in the field you are passionate about.”

Besides her CERC in Autonomous AI, Rish also holds an AI Chair of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; she is one of 22 women among the 107 who hold that title, including a number of UdeM AI experts such as Yoshua Bengio and Simon Lacoste-Julien.

A recording of today’s discussion will be made available shortly after the live event.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.