AI And Women: The Impact Of AI On Women In The Workplace And Society

Women’s History Month shines an important spotlight on how certain aspects of our society affect members of our global community. With the rise of artificial intelligence and other new and emerging technology, the world is undergoing a big transformation in terms of innovation, efficiency, and creativity. However, technology has been seen to display biases – and for women, this presents a complex set of challenges that can threaten economic security, personal safety, and social norms. Without a parallel revolution of legislation and social innovation, AI may perpetuate and worsen gender disparities for women in the workplace and society.

AI Threats to Economic Security

The rise of automation and AI is rapidly reshaping the job market – and women, particularly those without college degrees, face considerable negative impacts from this transformation. Many jobs in industries that employ a significant number of women, such as administration, retail, and finance, are being replaced by AI systems.

More than just job displacement, AI has the potential to exacerbate existing gender inequalities. AI systems learn from various data input sources, and that data often reflects societal biases. Unaddressed, these biases can lead to discriminatory hiring practices and perpetuate existing gender pay gaps, as wage prediction models built on past salary data may inadvertently widen this disparity.

These concerns can also lead women to be more cautious about learning how to use AI software, which can limit their ability to benefit from it and can negatively affect their career development potential.

AI Threats to Personal Safety

Perhaps the most significant threat women face with AI’s emergence is related to its effects on personal safety. Deepfakes – the AI-generated manipulated media that can create realistic videos, images, and audio – can be weaponized to depict women in compromising or falsified situations. The potential for privacy violations, reputational harm, political manipulation, and emotional distress associated with deepfakes is one of the most pressing policy issues facing legislators today.

Women can also face compounded risks due to the intersection of various demographic and societal factors. For instance, AI algorithms are more likely to perpetuate biases against women of color, LGBQTIA+ women, disabled women, and women from low-income backgrounds. Economic disparities, limited access to technology, and cultural biases further complicate these issues.

AI Threats to Healthcare

AI-driven healthcare systems have the potential to perpetuate misinformation and stigma around women’s health issues, misdiagnose conditions, or downplay symptoms based on skewed data. Access to these AI-powered healthcare solutions might be limited for women, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. Economic disparities, digital literacy gaps, and language barriers can create a situation where these advancements are disproportionately detrimental to women.

AI use in reproductive health diagnostics and fertility treatments raises unique ethical concerns as well. A woman’s privacy may be threatened when sensitive data related to fertility, contraception, or pregnancy is processed by AI systems – especially as some states roll back protection on women’s reproductive rights.

Addressing the Threat of AI to Women

The sheer pace of AI’s rapid integration into society, often referred to as “megachange”, poses unique challenges to established social norms, particularly for women. To mitigate the negative impacts of AI on women, it is crucial to foster a more inclusive AI workforce by encouraging women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – particularly through early education initiatives. Highlighting successful women in STEM as role models and fostering mentorship programs can inspire future generations that can identify and address gender bias in AI’s development and implementation stages.

Strengthening legislation like cyberstalking laws to encompass online harassment specifically targeting women and criminalizing deepfakes is essential to protect women’s privacy and safety. Similarly, promoting a broader understanding of AI and its potential impacts can help women self-advocate and participate in shaping the future of technology.

Companies can invest in retraining and upskilling programs, which can enhance workforce stability and career advancement. Policies that acknowledge the caregiving responsibilities disproportionately shouldered by women, such as offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and family-friendly benefits, can demonstrate employer support and foster a more inclusive work environment. Regularly assessing pay equity and ensuring that women have equal opportunities for promotion are critical steps towards dismantling existing gender disparities and mitigating AI’s negative impacts on women.

These recommendations can help society to harness the power of AI and create a future where women can have a voice in technological progress and their personal success without the threat of bias. Building a more inclusive AI landscape requires collaboration between policymakers, tech companies, educators, researchers, women, and allies. This collaboration can ensure that AI empowers all members of society, fostering a safer and more equitable world for our communities.

Equity in Education

At Capitol Technology University, we believe in equity of education for all students. Our Center for Women in Cyber (CWC) is focused on empowering women of all ages to pursue careers in cyber and provides opportunities for learning and networking with professionals in the technology and cyber management landscapes. We also offer a first-of-its-kind in Maryland B.S. in Artificial Intelligence degree, where students can learn how to ethically manage the development of AI. To learn more about how Capitol can propel your career through higher education, visit our website or contact our Admissions team at admissions@captechu.edu.