An Interview with Dr. Allison Gardner, Director, Women Leading in AI and Senior Research Fellow, Keele University

Posted by Intelligent Health on Mar 9, 2023 5:01:26 PM
Intelligent Health
For International Women’s Day 2023,  we asked Dr. Allison Gardner, Director, Women Leading in AI and Senior Research Fellow at Keele University, about her biggest female influence in her industry. 
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

As someone whose expertise is primarily in AI Ethics I would of course mention Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell.


As a child, my hero was Rosalind Franklin. How she was treated always resonated with me and the work on algorithmic bias and how we risk embedding and automating inequality within our AI systems worries me, particularly in high-risk cases such as healthcare.


I will add that Virginia Eubanks book Automating Inequality and Mar Hicks book Programmed Inequality also have inspired me.


If you could solve any global problem in the world with AI, what would it be and why?


It would be health inequality, particularly for women's and girls' health. Especially in the global south.


What do you think are the 3 most important ways in which AI can be used for the benefit of humanity at the moment?


I think if we step back from the general AI hype use cases we see in the media and think of perhaps more mundane uses such as improving transport and traffic flow in our cities. I particularly like the examples of systems that allow priority to emergency vehicles such as ambulances.


Agritech also has a big potential in improving our food supplies and of course, nutrition is an important part of health. Naturally, the use of AI for drug discovery and analysis of genetic data has huge (1)


What changes would you like to see in healthcare?


I would like to see a very strong focus on health inequalities, particularly women’s health and the intersectionality around that.


Issues such as chronic UTI, menopause and maternal care should be a high priority. I would like to see the governance of AI systems within the health sector, by adopting organisations and users, to be as stringent and high priority as the current information and data governance requirements.


I would also like to see the voices of patients, carers and frontline care staff enhanced and to be influential in policy and regulatory decision-making.


I would personally really like to see all local healthcare organsiations have a transparent register on their websites listing the AI systems they are using, key information about them and details of who is responsible and accountable should recourse and redress be required.


What was your best comeback to a challenge you faced in your career?


That is hard to say. Any comeback means that I have had to redirect my energies in response to blocks and hurdles placed in my way. This means instead of an easy straight run I have had to try back doors, side doors and unusual routes to career progression. It is very tiring.


I think co-founding Women Leading in AI and working with an amazing team of like-minded women has probably been my best comeback. In addition, I think another comeback is that I don’t give up, I keep going and I have developed a name, reputation, network and level of respect that I would not have imagined.


What one piece of advice would you give to young women looking for a career in healthcare?


Do not feel you need to pretend that you don’t care about women’s health and issues so that you need to be “ taken seriously”.


Make sure that you build a strong, diverse network of supportive women around you and augment the call to address health inequalities for all women.



We cannot wait to see Allison at Intelligent Health UK on 24th-25th May in London!

The Intelligent Health team



Global AI and health events calendar 2023

Intelligent Health UK
24-25 May 2023
Platinum Suite, ExCeL London, UK 


Intelligent Health 
13-14 September 2023

Basel, Switzerland

Share your content with the Intelligent Health community

Got some interesting content you want to share with our community of over 220,000 AI and health Brains? You can send us anything from a published piece you have written online, white paper, article or interview. Submit it here


Topics: AI, Digital Health, Interview