How AI Could Help—or Hinder—Women in the Workforce

By Andrea Gallego , Matt Krentz , Frances Brooks Taplett , Miki Tsusaka , and Nadjia Yousif | BCG | May 14, 2019

There’s little doubt that artificial intelligence (AI)—the ability of computers and other machines to work intelligently without human intervention—will transform the world in profound ways. When and where its impact will be felt the most are hard to predict. One thing is certain: AI will thoroughly disrupt employment patterns. Over the coming decades, tens of millions of jobs will be eliminated—and created. And AI will touch all of us in myriad ways as it pervades decision making and other workplace processes.

How might AI exacerbate—or mitigate—the current gender gap in the corporate-leadership pipeline?

How will AI impact women and their jobs? How will it affect the number of women in the workforce? And how might it exacerbate—or mitigate—the current gender gap in the corporate-leadership pipeline?

The initial signs present cause for worry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that 11% of jobs currently held by women (a higher percentage than those currently held by men) are at risk of elimination as a result of AI and other digital technologies. And there have been reports of AI algorithms in talent management software generating results slanted against women because of a cumulative bias baked into the data on which the algorithms are trained.

In this article, we look at the potential gender-related impact of AI. The picture, although troubling, is not categorically negative. The challenge ahead is to ensure that, in the rush of change, AI does not cast women aside. In fact, we are confident that with prompt and proactive efforts, companies and leaders can make AI a net benefit to women.

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