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Erica Farmer

Quantum Rise Talent Group Ltd

Co- Founder & Business Director, Digital Learning & Apprenticeship Expert, Speaker & Facilitator -

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How to close the AI gender gap

In the run up to International Women’s Day (8th March), TrainingZone columnist Erica Farmer explores the implications of AI on women’s careers and offers six strategies to close the AI gender gap.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona

During keynotes and workshops I am frequently asked whether AI is biased. And my answer is always ‘yes’.

And so, as AI becomes increasingly integrated into our personal and professional lives, we need to consider how to protect and deliver a more equitable future of work.

The development of AI brings up both opportunities and challenges to this mission. To ensure we close the AI gender gap, we need to acknowledge where we are starting from and deploy strategies that fight against our existing gender biases.

More men are using generative AI than women

According to 2023 research by Flexjobs, 54% of men are using AI in either or both their personal and professional life, while women (35%) are adopting AI at a much slower pace. 

The findings broken down by gender are as such:

  • Use in personal life: 15% women, 21% men
  • Use in both personal/professional life: 11% women, 12% men
  • Use at work (with manager’s permission): 5% women, 11% men
  • Use at work (without manager’s permission): 4% women, 10% men

The question of why there are fewer women than men using generative AI technologies touches on broader issues of gender disparity in technology. This underrepresentation of women in AI needs a multifaceted approach, addressing challenges in education, professional settings and societal norms. 

The demise of repetitive jobs

According to a study by Revelio Labs AI is more likely to take over repetitive jobs – the kind that are mostly held by women. 

Hakki Ozdenoren, Senior Economist at Revelio Labs, highlights that ChatGPT can search, review and summarise large volumes of text quickly – tasks that would normally take paralegals much longer to accomplish. In recruitment, AI can automate the process of sorting through resumes, which is a task that used to require more people.

But this doesn’t mean that other highly skilled workers can feel secure about their jobs. Preliminary research also shows that generative AI may impact high-wage occupations more than non-traditional manufacturing jobs.

Moving forward, providing retraining opportunities will be key for women to navigate the evolving job landscape,” Ozdenoren said. “By doing so, we can capitalise on the potential of AI while leveraging their valuable skills and expertise”.

Six strategies for AI gender equity 

I, for one, subscribe to the school of thought that AI is not about job displacement, No matter your pronouns, age or background, AI will offer up all sorts of opportunities for careers, reskilling, and general activities in life.

We know there are issues in equity for women and we have much to do here.

Below are six strategies we can deploy to promote equity and fairness in our AI future and battle against these social norms. (Note, these suggestions came from ChatGPT 4 in a discussion on enhancing participation in AI for women).

The first one is particularly close to my heart……

1. Cultivating early careers

Build out incredible opportunities for apprentices, interns, graduates and those reskilling and upskilling:

  • Integrate STEM and AI concepts into early education, using engaging and inclusive methods specifically designed to capture girls' curiosity
  • Foster welcoming STEM clubs and activities, providing young women with role models and mentors from the field

2. Removing financial obstacles

Don’t let money get in the way of progress:

  • Offer scholarships, grants and financial assistance specifically for women pursuing AI and related fields, addressing economic barriers to entry
  • Support initiatives that aim to make tech careers more financially accessible to women

3. Building support systems

Connect those who want to be connected, want to learn and can make a difference in our future:

  • Establish mentorship programmes connecting women in AI with experienced professionals who can offer guidance and support
  • Facilitate networking opportunities through conferences, workshops and online communities dedicated to women in AI

4. Championing diversity in AI development

Use AI to make sure that glass ceiling gets well and truly smashed:

  • Promote diversity in AI research teams, recognising the value of diverse perspectives in creating equitable and inclusive AI technologies
  • Implement and enforce policies that ensure equal opportunities for women in hiring, promotions, and leadership positions within tech companies and institutions

5. Fostering a supportive work environment

Ensure everyone can see past differences and to learn from each other:

  • Create a workplace culture free from gender bias, harassment and discrimination
  • Implement flexible work arrangements and support initiatives that promote work-life balance for all employees, particularly benefiting women

6. Advocating for change

We can no longer wait around for others to do this. Those in positions of power have obligations to lead the way:

  • Advocate for policy changes at the governmental and institutional level to support women's inclusion and advancement in tech fields
  • Develop and enforce policies within online platforms and communities that promote safety, respect and inclusivity, reducing barriers to participation for women

AI shines a light on societal setbacks

By implementing these strategies, we can pave the way for a more equitable and diverse AI ecosystem. This fosters the creation of AI technologies that are fair, unbiased, and truly representative of the diverse world they serve.

You could argue, however, that many of these are not specific challenges to AI, but like many things, AI is merely shining a light on them. There is much for us to do, and it is all our responsibility to do it.

So, with that in mind, what else do you think AI will shine a light on, as we continue to fall down the rabbit hole? Let me know.

Interested in this topic? Read Why managers must consider ethics when upskilling with AI

Author Profile Picture
Erica Farmer

Co- Founder & Business Director, Digital Learning & Apprenticeship Expert, Speaker & Facilitator -

Read more from Erica Farmer

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