Academy

AI and women

While the true potential of artificial intelligence (AI) remains largely unexplored, its impact on our world and the future is becoming more evident every day. Name any sector or industry, AI-led transformation is taking place right in front of our eyes from medical to aviation, to space and to the exploration of deep-sea ecosystems.

AI, undoubtedly, has come with limitless possibilities and opportunities while the same is true with its accompanying challenges—courtesy the ever evolving data sphere. Therefore, the debate over responsible and ethical development, deployment, use, and governance of trustworthy AI technologies is also growing. But there are other challenges too.

The world of work is changing fast. The use of AI has started affecting our opportunities for work. At the same time, it has also created many new opportunities for us to work. The governments and private sector have forced a focus on individuals equipped with AI and Machine Learning (ML) related skills.

New AI related executive roles have sprung up in organizations and government departments and agencies to harness the potential of artificial intelligence and to make a real difference. AI skills shortage has emerged as a bitter reality. But when it comes to women there are dozens of reports and articles highlighting how women have left behind in the new AI world.

Artificial intelligence is among many other facets of the term “computer science education” as defined in the bill “Computer Science for All Act of 2021” –currently proposed in Congress.

As per the bill, women overall face challenges in accessing computer science education. “Only 18 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred in computer science went to women in 2015,” reads the bill.

A recent report “The Effects of AI on the Working Lives of Women” released in celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day has rightly pointed out that efforts must be made to narrow gender gaps while harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence.

“The use of AI technologies will affect women’s opportunities for work, and their position, status and treatment in the workplace. Around the globe, women in the labour force earn less than men, spend more time undertaking unpaid child- and elder-care jobs, hold fewer senior positions, participate less in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and tend to hold more precarious jobs overall. In harnessing AI, governments, institutions and companies must narrow gender gaps rather than perpetuate or exacerbate them,” the report reads.

Among other findings, the report suggests reskilling and upskilling women workers and encouraging women in STEM education in the wake of changing the labour market because of AI.

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