Women are slipping behind when it comes to generative AI in the workplace. Here is how to change that

As per the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,

  • Males surpass females in the utilization of generative AI across all age cohorts.
  • The disparity is most pronounced among Generation Z employees, presenting enduring challenges to gender parity.
  • Organizations have the ability to reverse this pattern through the enhancement of upskilling initiatives, the establishment of a collective vision with staff, the expansion of IT teams, and the inclusion of business unit executives and Generation Z “superusers” in deliberations.
Women are slipping behind when it comes to generative AI in the workplace. Here is how to change that
Women are slipping behind when it comes to generative AI in the workplace. Here is how to change that.

Global interest in generative AI tools is on the rise; however, female employees are lagging behind their male counterparts in terms of technology adoption. Such a development could significantly impact not only the professional paths of individuals, but also the organizations that are developing and staffing the positions of the future.

According to technologists, generative AI is transforming into an entirely new industry. However, women have been slower to adopt it than males. A survey of 25,000 working adults conducted by the Oliver Wyman Forum revealed that 59% of male workers aged 18-65 worldwide utilize generative AI tools at least once per week, compared to 51% of their female counterparts. These discrepancies endure throughout the sixteen geographies and age cohorts examined.

Worrisomely, the disparity is greatest among the youngest workers: 59% of women and 71% of males aged 18-24 report using generative AI on a weekly basis, respectively.

If not rectified, this discrepancy has the potential to not only exacerbate gender inequalities in conventional “pink collar” sectors vulnerable to automation, including healthcare, education, and customer service, but also restrict prospects for women in the professions of the future.

Read More: The first ‘AI beauty pageant’ reveals the most unsettling aspect of new technology.

Fortunately, corporations possess the capability to reverse this trend. Leaders can encourage a greater number of women to adopt generative AI by increasing upskilling, strengthening IT teams, establishing a shared vision with employees, and inviting business unit leaders and Generation Z “superusers” to the discussion.

It is our responsibility to determine whether generative AI benefits or harms our world.

Massive upskilling efforts

Almost all personnel acknowledge the significance of generative AI, notwithstanding their current lack of implementation. In response to AI disruption, a full 98% of those surveyed by the Oliver Wyman Forum stated they will require a reskilling within the next five years. The majority of workers (77% of white-collar workers, 74% of blue-collar workers, and 71% of pink-collar workers) believe employer support would increase their confidence in utilizing AI in the workplace.

However, despite the desire of employees to receive this training, business executives hold the belief that only 40% of their workforce truly requires such upskilling. Workers become anxious as a result of this disconnect, pondering the ways in which generative AI could eradicate or disrupt their job duties.

Working individuals may find it challenging to exhibit initiative at times. Women are frequently more reluctant to invest time or money in additional training, even when it is critical to their careers, than males. Additionally, time is a critical commodity for individuals juggling family and domestic obligations, alongside cost.

Employers have the ability to mitigate these concerns by providing comprehensive AI training throughout the workday. Organizations that offer a diverse array of opportunities—spanning from face-to-face to remote, collaborative to autonomous, and encompassing multiple tiers and applications—will observe greater female participation. This will be especially beneficial for women in occupations where AI disruption is more probable.

Certain enterprises are already considering the future, particularly with regard to occupations that will be profoundly impacted by artificial intelligence. A sizable multinational furniture corporation, for instance, is providing interior design advisory training to call center employees.

The company’s newly implemented AI bot is capable of managing customer inquiries, allowing staff to assist clients with home enhancement and advisory services.

Read More: The world’s first AI beauty contest with computer-generated women has been revealed.

Women consistently use generative AI less than men in the workplace. That could be a problem.
Image: Oliver Wyman Forum
Women consistently use generative AI less than men in the workplace. That could be a problem. Image: Oliver Wyman Forum

Develop a collective vision with employees/Workers

Business executives must proactively address the AI issue by elucidating its potential ramifications on operations throughout their entire organization. This entails actively involving employees in the formulation of a collective vision for the future and infusing motivation by consistently communicating the ways in which generative AI can enhance employee capabilities and render jobs more engaging and valuable through the elimination of repetitive duties.

For instance, a prominent technology corporation has initiated this procedure by publicly disclosing its strategic emphasis on AI for the foreseeable future and by involving its workforce in the process. In pursuit of this objective, the organization declared its decision to abstain from recruiting for a number of thousand non-customer-facing roles—jobs reliant on menial duties like transferring personnel between departments and extending employment verification letters—which it anticipates will be replaced by AI within the following five years.

IT inclusiveness

AI strategy, budget, and accountability are typically managed by the IT department, which has a historically low female representation, in the majority of organizations. In addition to recognizing the significance of the IT function in facilitating and implementing changes, business leaders must acquaint themselves with the technology and investigate its potential.

This, in turn, will increase the representation of women on the table and broaden the pool of decision-makers.

Obviously, increasing the number of women in technical positions where numerous AI decisions are made is also vital. A major technology company has effectively increased the representation of women in technical roles through a multiyear retention-oriented initiative that addresses pay equity, access to essential healthcare, and family leave policies. Over the past five years, another organization has increased female retention by 25% through its sponsorship and mentoring initiatives.

Tap Generation Z

Generative AI provides an opportunity for members of Generation Z to interact with and educate more senior colleagues on the technology, given that they are likely to be more knowledgeable about it. According to research conducted by the Oliver Wyman Forum a year ago, a significant number of Generation Z individuals value community and desire peer-to-peer mentoring programs. This is a chance for women of Generation Z to not only take the initiative but also raise awareness and assist in the education of their peers.

As the technology becomes more pervasive and integrated into society, organizations have the opportunity to demonstrate that a range of perspectives and genders are contributing to the discourse.

Already, generative AI is causing significant disruptions in the workplace, and this trend will only continue. Future workforces must be dominated by women, not only for their own benefit but also for that of corporations, shareholders, and societies.

It is imperative that the gender disparity in AI adoption be closed as soon as possible, and businesses have a significant opportunity to do so.

The original article was published on the website weforum.org.

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