According to a gender equality report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), women hold just 22 per cent of jobs in the AI workforce, representing a gender gap three times larger than average.
The analysis, which was based on LinkedIn data, also revealed that women in the sector were more likely to be employed as data analysts, researchers and information managers, while men held more lucrative jobs as software engineers, heads of engineering and CEOs.
The research found that patterns in the AI gender gap are similar to those in the overall workforce: female AI professionals are more likely to work in “traditionally female” industries – those which already have a relatively high share of female workers, such as the nonprofit, healthcare and education sectors.
In general, women with AI skills are more likely to work in the use and application of AI, with common positions including data analytics, research and teaching. Men are more likely to work in the development of the technology itself, which is reflected in the skills they report, such as deep learning and neural networks.
The report explains that women are “growing but not gaining” when it comes to AI skills. Which means that while men and women are gaining AI skills at similar rates, gender imbalance in the field is likely to persist. The far-reaching impact of artificial intelligence suggests that there are both equity and ethical imperatives to addressing the shortage of women in developing AI and other emerging technologies.
To break the cycle of gender imbalance, it is critical to ensure that women at all stages of their careers are being inspired to actively take part in the development and use of new technologies. Moreover, achieving higher levels of female participation in key fields like AI requires an understanding of the ways that gender gaps manifest across different industries, occupations and skills, the research said in order to inform decision-making that can help stakeholders address those challenges more effectively and more holistically.