The Impact of AI on Women (And What to Do About It)

May 9, 2024 | What's Hot | 7 min read

The explosion and hype of ChatGPT has sparked significant interest and excitement in the realm of generative AI. According to a McKinsey report, generative AI could add $4.4 trillion to the global economy annually. To put the scale of that impact in perspective, the United Kingdom’s entire GDP in 2021 was $3.1 trillion dollars.

Generative AI is different from other technological advances because it impacts more than just a few people in IT. It affects most jobs at nearly every level — spanning from marketing to coders, HR to operations.

Programmers use tools like Copilot and ChatGPT 4 to write code. Marketers use AI to personalize campaigns. Customer service uses AI assistants to provide quick and human-like answers to customers.

Not only does generative AI have the ability to make more people, in more roles, more productive, but it also presents a possibility to make a profound impact on how we address diversity and inclusion in the tech sector.

Greater Gender Equality = Better Business Performance

Among those primed to benefit from this transformation are women, a group historically underrepresented and undervalued in the industry.

Unfortunately, issues of equality in the tech space seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Forbes reports that in 1984, 35% of technology leadership roles were held by women. Today, over forty years later, that figure has fallen to 28%.

According to our 2024 Women in Tech report, 34% of women in tech share that men outnumber them at ratios of four-to-one or greater within their organizations.

To access the full Women in Tech report, click here →

Addressing this underrepresentation of women in technology is not only a matter of fairness and social justice, but also a strategic imperative for driving innovation and growth. In fact, companies with greater gender equity have a 48% higher chance of outperforming companies with a gender imbalance.

Generative AI is establishing endless new avenues for creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. For women in tech, this translates into freedom from traditional barriers and leveraging AI-driven tools to showcase their talents and expertise. 

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Putting Women at the Forefront of AI Innovation

The survey findings from our Women in Tech Report show generative AI is already having a significant impact in the workplace, with 32% of women reporting that advancements in AI moderately improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Of the 40% of women who reported they are actively utilizing AI in their professional roles, 73% have found they are more productive, and 19% find their work is more streamlined. 

The AI technologies and tools that women are finding the most useful at work are:

  • ChatGPT
  • Azure OpenAI
  • Github
  • Copilot
  • FeaturesAI
  • AdoptAI
  • AccessAI

Not surprisingly given how popular it is, ChatGPT tops the list. But this underscores the critical need for women to have access to a wide array of AI skills development and training to continue to hone and improve their skills across a number of different tools and technologies. 

Breaking Barriers to Access AI Training

The problem is that while AI is the number one topic women want to learn about, a staggering 63% of women in the survey lack access to training. 

This AI skills gap not only obstructs individual career growth but also poses a significant barrier to leveraging the full potential of generative AI in the workplace.

So, how can organizations work to close this AI skills gap and foster an inclusive environment for women to redefine their careers in tech? 

Let’s take a look. 

Provide skills training for women in both technical and power skills

As organizations look to harness the power of generative AI, they'll need to ensure they provide all of their employees — women included — with the tools and environments to not only build AI skills, but to do so in a way that protects their IP and customer information, while nurturing human skills like curiosity, creativity, and collaboration.

Transformative learning platforms play a pivotal role in equipping women with the expertise needed to thrive in the tech landscape. These programs offer hands-on training in AI technologies, providing participants with practical experience and real-world applications. By focusing on skills development, women can gain confidence, competence, and credibility in their chosen field, thereby narrowing the gender gap in tech.

That saidcompanies need to go beyond just technical AI skills training, because the reality is power skills matter just as much. Sometimes known as “soft skills,” power skills include those very human characteristics like communication, emotional intelligence, and adaptability.

These skills have become even more important in the age of generative AI as human judgment is critical in any task that requires nuance. While machines may perform certain tasks more efficiently than humans, they lack the emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills necessary for complex decision-making processes (at least today).

Therefore, it’s no surprise that even in technology, the top three skills reported "most important for leaders" were team communication, emotional intelligence, and active listening. Women say ineffective leadership is their top challenge at work, surpassing both unequal pay and lack of opportunity. 

Democratize Access to Learning Opportunities

While generative AI is creating an unprecedented need for new skills, it is also providing an unprecedented solution to learn new skills. Coupled with online learning platforms and remote training modules, generative AI has the potential to democratize access to learning opportunities.

Women from different backgrounds and places can now take training programs from their own homes. Their location isn't a barrier in the same way it has been historically.

Generative AI is also helping in this space through advancements like AI-powered content curation, tailored learning paths, and dynamic assessments.

Skillsoft CAISY™, our Conversation AI Simulator, serves as one example. This use of generative AI helps expand access to training. Skillsoft CAISY enables learners to practice important business conversations with an AI-powered trainer in a safe space and receive immediate personalized feedback to guide their development.

Learners can select from a range of real-world business scenarios like providing constructive feedback to an employee, giving a sales pitch, talking to an upset customer, investigating a cybersecurity breach, and more.

By using generative AI to make education more accessible and inclusive, organizations can help to level the playing field for women in tech.

How to Address Bias and Discrimination

As more and more workforces look to leverage the power of generative AI, it is crucial for organizations to establish clear communication and a strategic plan to responsibly integrate AI into daily work.

Companies need to consider some of the following risks when it comes to generative AI: 

Bias and fairness

While generative AI has the potential to foster inclusivity, it can also further exacerbate existing biases if not implemented with a responsible approach. That’s because AI systems can inadvertently perpetuate or amplify biases present in the data used for training. Companies must carefully monitor and mitigate bias in their AI algorithms and decision-making processes to ensure they do not perpetuate existing inequalities or disadvantage certain groups, including women and minorities.

Regulations and compliance

With the increase in implementations of generative AI comes the increase in regulations, as generative AI can pose legal ramifications if it generates content infringing upon copyright, privacy, or other intellectual property rights. Just this year, the European Parliament officially adopted the EU AI Act, which is the first major law to regulate AI. Companies need to understand and comply with relevant laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal disputes and liabilities.

Data privacy and security

Programmers build and train generative AI models using large datasets. Companies must protect the privacy and security of sensitive data, ensuring personal and confidential information remains safe.

As we move forward, women's representation in AI development and decision-making processes is essential to ensure that AI technologies are equitable and inclusive.

AI training programs are essential for women to secure careers in the rapidly evolving tech landscape. By acquiring AI skills, women can overcome barriers, seize opportunities, and contribute to building a more diverse, inclusive, and innovative future in AI and technology that can benefit all.

To learn more about the current state of women in tech, what’s important to them, and what they need from their employers to thrive, access our full report here.