Spotlight on Women in Tech: Dr Qinghua Lu
Meet Dr Qinghua Lu, the team leader of Data61’s Software Engineering for AI and the science lead of Responsible AI research team.
We chat to her about her career, current projects, the creation of responsible AI, and what the STEM industry can do to attract and enable women.
What led you to choose a career in tech?
A career in tech is a unique opportunity to change the way we live, and it’s always changing and challenging.
What attracted you to join CSIRO’s Data61?
The potential to be a part of innovative science and technology that could have a real impact on the world. I work with leading scientists across multidisciplinary areas and in partnership with industry to create novel and effective solutions that benefit society.
Can you please describe your professional background and the areas you specialise in?
My background is in software engineering and software architecture. I’m currently focussing on software engineering for responsible AI.
Can you share an example of a data and digital science project that you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of, and that has achieved a positive impact? What was the biggest lesson you took away from the experience?
I’m most proud of leading CSIRO’s hydrogen accreditation project. An emerging industry in Australia, hydrogen is crucial to achieving sustainability and decarbonisation.
I oversee the development of the digital elements needed for the hydrogen supply chain, work that will enhance Australia’s ability to be competitive in the international hydrogen market.
What are some of the projects you’re working on at Data61? What about them excites you?
Operationalising Responsible AI is one of the most exciting projects. Many ethical regulations, principles, and guidelines needed for the creation of responsible AI have been issued lately, but not put into practice.
Part of this challenge is that these frameworks are often too high-level to broadly and effectively apply across industry.
Operationalising Responsible AI aims to provide the expert advice, information, and tools developers, regulators, management and other stakeholders need to make AI products and their developments process responsible.
In your opinion, what’s the single biggest change that needs to happen to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech?
In my opinion, organisation-level policies need to be developed to push for more diversity and inclusion, like what we are doing at Data61 and CSIRO – for example, in our growth campaign, we keep diversity in our mind and build practices to help us align with the polity.
Organisations need to implement policies that drive greater diversity and inclusion. Data61’s growth campaign is an excellent example of how change can be made.
How can colleagues, organisations, and industries within tech better support and enable women?
Diversity and inclusion should forever be front of mind and embedded within an organisation’s values, culture and hiring. CSIRO is an industry leader in implementing this, ranging from ensuring diversity and inclusion officers are present at all major sites to provide information, options and assistance, to creating programs like the one Prof Didar Zowghi leads.
What advice would you give to women and girls wanting to pursue a career in tech?
Be confident and never give up.
Discover some of Dr Lu’s research here.