The Women in Machine Learning Program Blog Series Part 6 – Millie McDonald

We are publishing a blog series on the brilliant women we had involved in the Women in Machine Learning program last year.  

Whoever you are, and whatever your background we are sure you will find their thoughts on Machine Learning, inclusion and their stories inspirational and inspiring.  

Millie McDonald

Millie is currently completing a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics at the University of Melbourne. Part of her research has led to collaborations with scientists at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research. In addition to her research, she is also a demonstrator and examiner.

What gets you excited about Machine Learning, and what makes you want to learn more?

I am excited by the seemingly endless applications of Machine Learning. It has the promise to make life both easier and more fascinating. I find myself asking questions like, “Could I connect this device or that device to a Neural Network to perform this task or save myself that expense?” This is what makes me want to learn more – the potential to innovate and create with ML.

What diversity initiatives would you like to see in the MLAI industry?

I think it’s always a fantastic thing to have those already in an industry learn why diversity initiatives are needed. Otherwise the work of reform tends to fall on those who need it least – the ones already being pushed out of the industry! Workshops designed to educate on unconscious bias and the ways it can manifest are a great start. I’d also love to see increased advocacy for policies that promote an inclusive culture, eg. easier access to maternity/paternity leave for parents, visible acceptance and support of minority groups from leadership, greater flexibility in working hours, and dedicated days/weeks of celebration to promote visibility (e.g., NAIDOC week, Wear It Purple day, Headspace Day, etc).

What was your favourite part of the Women in Machine Learning program, or what did you get most out of?

I really enjoyed learning some of the theory that underpins ML and applying that knowledge to a practical, real-world problem. It was also amazing to share a room with so many passionate, skilled, and creative individuals – it was truly a novel experience to be a woman and in the majority at a tech-oriented event.

What is next for you on your Machine Learning journey?

I have been inundated with ideas for practical applications of ML since completing the Women in Machine Learning program. I already have an app in the works and several options to explore. My ML journey is taking flight.

What advice do you have for anyone from an underrepresented group in entering a career in tech?

My advice would be to persist. As a member of an underrepresented group, the pressure to perform at an above-average level is immense. But there is also great reward. And every bit of representation counts!

Do you or your company what to support the Women in Machine Learning  program in 2019? Register your interest here. 

We will be opening applications for the Women in Machine Learning program later in 2019. Register your details here to be amongst the first to apply.

Interested in a career in Machine Learning? We are hiring, check out our current openings here.  

Did you enjoy reading Millie’s post? Check out the rest of our Women in Machine Learning blog series…

Part 1
Part 3: Ashley
Part 5: Georgie
Part 2: Ayesha
Part 4: Genevieve

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