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There’s a gender gap in AI adoption at work. How can we stop women from falling behind

Experts recommend implementing a training curriculum that offers consistent, progressive learning and policies and practices that support work-life balance

There’s a gender gap in AI adoption at work. How can we stop women from falling behind
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

AI models are getting smarter, and GenAI tools are exploding, but unfortunately, women are being left behind in using the technology. Seemingly, they haven’t been as eager as men to embrace it.

“While interest in AI is exploding worldwide, there seems to be a conspicuous gender gap in its adoption. Men are outpacing women; at least, the numbers say so,” says Dr. Drishty Sobnath, Assistant Professor at the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

According to a recent survey by Flexjobs, 54% of men have incorporated AI into their personal or professional lives, while the figure drops significantly to only 35% for women.

Numerous studies confirm that women aren’t overly concerned about AI’s impact on their jobs. A Betterworks survey found that only 19% of female workers were apprehensive about job security in light of GenAI compared to 45% of men. 

According to research by the Oliver Wyman Forum of 25,000 working adults surveyed, 59% of male workers aged 18-65 worldwide say they use GenAI tools at least once a week, while only 51% of women say the same.

Women’s optimism in the face of AI workplace disruption shows their resilience. But additional data is worrying.

More than a third of working women are engaged in occupations at risk of being disrupted by AI, compared to 60% of men.

According to the World Economic Forum, women represent only 22% of AI professionals globally. 

“As AI continues to penetrate its roots into industries globally, the underrepresentation of women in tech fields could further limit their access to AI-driven services,” says Dr. Sobnath.

If unaddressed, this gap could have huge consequences for individual career trajectories and companies creating and filling future jobs. 

“If the gender disparity in AI continues unchecked, it could exacerbate existing gender imbalances in the workforce and limit opportunities for women,” says Sana Odeh, NYUAD Affiliated Faculty and Clinical Professor of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. 

“Women may miss out on opportunities for career advancement in AI-related fields if they are underrepresented in the development and implementation of AI technologies. This can further widen the gender gap in high-paying and influential positions within the tech industry.”

Odeh adds that a lack of gender diversity in AI development teams can limit the range of ideas and solutions generated, hindering progress in AI technology and its applications.


Dr. Sobnath says women’s lower enthusiasm stems from many factors. “They are uniquely concerned about the risks of AI, primarily driven by fears of economic and personal security. AI-powered deep fakes and online harassment also mainly target women.”

Additionally, gender bias in the workplace can potentially affect women’s confidence in using AI tools, even though many do not require technical knowledge and skills. 

Most importantly, women are underrepresented in STEM fields, which can lead to less exposure and familiarity with AI technologies, which indirectly affects their willingness to adopt AI tools. 

“Addressing these issues requires not only creating more welcoming tech environments but also offering support and resources that acknowledge and accommodate the unique challenges women face,” says Nezha Alaoui, CEO of Women Choice. This organization leads initiatives and strategies to advance women’s empowerment in the workplace. 

Alaoui adds that technologies like AI, poised to be major drivers of innovation, should accelerate gender equality, not hinder it. 

“It is imperative to address the root causes of this disparity through inclusivity in AI development projects. Upskilling and reskilling are crucial to keeping up with the changing job market,” says Dr. Sobnath.


Advancements in AI create the opportunity to shift reality for many women today, but only if we are willing to invest in upskilling this talented, motivated, and often underutilized workforce.

“Companies can prevent women from falling behind in AI adoption by implementing a training curriculum that offers consistent, progressive learning rather than sporadic courses and workshops. This structured approach should be vision-driven, designed to build upon previous knowledge and skills coherently,” says Alaoui.

She adds, “It’s essential to integrate these educational programs to ensure women are equally prepared and can thrive in an AI-enhanced workplace.” 

Another way companies can take proactive steps to encourage women’s participation in embracing AI is by providing funding for conversion courses to their existing female employees to help them transition into AI-related roles, says Dr. Sobnath. “Many conversion courses are designed to be accessible to individuals from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, making it easier for women with non-technical or non-STEM backgrounds to enter the field of AI.”

Many companies need to provide equal upskilling opportunities, especially for women. Offering company-paid access to AI upskilling for all employees can help bridge this gap. AI algorithms can personalize training programs for each employee, addressing their specific needs and career goals.

“Create a culture that values diversity and inclusion by recruiting and retaining women in AI roles. This includes implementing policies and practices that support work-life balance, providing mentorship and sponsorship programs, and fostering an inclusive work environment where all employees feel valued and respected,” says Odeh.

When everyone has access to tools they can use to advance their careers, organizations can optimize talent for the future of work.

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Suparna Dutt D’Cunha is the Editor at Fast Company Middle East. She is interested in ideas and culture and cover stories ranging from films and food to startups and technology. She was a Forbes Asia contributor and previously worked at Gulf News and Times Of India. More

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