Regardless of personal feelings, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has swept the world into unprecedented territory. While many people view the influx of artificial intelligence tools as a step in the direction of societal progress, others are more concerned about the ethical and economic implications that the AI will have moving forward.
There is a growing concern for the future of women in the workforce in conjunction with the future of AI. In a report from the Washington Post, AI may harm more women professionally than men, with findings showing that over one-third of hours worked in the United States will be automated by the end of the decade. This is due to the fact that many of the roles that AI is predicted to overtake, including food service, customer service, and sales, are overrepresented by women. By 2030, at least 12 million workers will need to transition into new job industries, a feat that would require not only a mass labor exodus but the acquisition of new skills on behalf of those forced to change careers.
Disproportionate Impact For Women At Work
While fears of AI overtaking jobs have been assuaged by the notion that many of the jobs that artificial intelligence will replace won’t require “soft skills,” there is a striking blindside to this argument. In an article from Fortune, employment data from across the U.S. and U.K. noted that women are 31% and 57% more likely to hold positions that are people-oriented than their male counterpart and those jobs are ripe for the pickings in AI.
Another study done by the Kenan Institute also found that 8 out of 10 women work in fields that are highly exposed to generative AI automation. “Highly exposed” is defined as a job where 25%-50% of tasks can be performed by generative AI). This accounts for nearly 59 million women in the workforce.
No job will ever be fully “AI-proof,” Noreen Farrell, executive director of the Equal Rights Advocates, told HerMoney.com. But one of the largest pushes for women maintaining job security in the unknown future of AI in the workplace is increased technological literacy and increased acceleration programs that train women in technical skills and in AI-based technology, such as those offered at Stanford University or via Coursera.
Fight Against AI Or Work With It?
While there is much to be anticipated about the progress that AI will allow society to make in the upcoming years, a question of ethics is posed. How intelligent are the machines we make if they compromise the quality of life for ordinary people? And at what point does society toe the line between efficiency and exploitation? According to Jaclynn Brennan, founder and CEO of Fyli, a global community for women founders, the most important thing women can do is keep accelerating. “If we push back, we’re going to get left behind. We have to work with it, and not fight the tide.”