‘Women less likely to want a career in AI’

A new government survey shows women are significantly less likely to consider a career in AI than men.

Image of people at work in the background with technology overlay indicating techposter syndrome


Women are significantly less likely than men to want a career in Artificial Intelligence, with only 31% agreeing they would be interested compared to 47% of men, according to a Government survey.

The survey also found that men were significantly more likely to say they knew something about AI than women (73% compared to 50%).

The lack of interest in a job in AI is despite the fact that the Government says a new AI start-up is founded almost weekly in the UK and that 58 million jobs are expected to be created worldwide in the AI industry in the next five years.

The survey, conducted by independent polling company Kantar Public on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also revealed 60% of people were excited to see what AI can do and that awareness levels of AI in everyday life were also more than 60%. There was also a strong recognition of the potential of AI to improve home energy efficiency (74%), speed up diagnosis of disease (68%) and provide a more accurate diagnosis of disease.

The Government says initiatives aimed at boosting the AI sector include new industry-funded masters, 16 dedicated university centres to train AI PhDs and research fellowships at the Alan Turing Institute, a new AI Council and a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.

There is concern that women are in danger of being sidelined by the AI revolution. The impact of not having enough women in the industry not only means that women may lose out on the well-paid jobs of the future, but there is also an impact on their everyday lives wherever they work. Caroline Criado-Perez’s new book Invisible women: exposing data bias in a world designed for men, highlights how data, from government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, excludes women and perpetuates systemic discrimination.

Meanwhile, a new study from McKinsey Global Institute has found that women are at nearly equal risk to men to lose their jobs as a result of the AI revolution. It predicts around 100 million women across the world could lose their jobs by 2030, with technological advancements affecting the genders nearly evenly.  However, the study does not predict mass job losses and forecasts that 171 million new positions held by women will be created by 2030, with the rate of job growth potentially slightly larger for women than for men due to women doing most of the jobs in the healthcare profession. However, a survey of 4,000 technology leaders by KPMG and Harvey Nash predicts at least 10% of the workforce would be replaced by automated roles in the next five years, with a third saying the rate would be 20% while the government’s Digital Economy Council says jobs in the digital sector now account for 20% of all vacancies in the UK.

*Workingmums.co.uk is holding an employer roundtable on women in technology today, bringing employers together to debate this urgent topic. A white paper on the event will be available to download free from our site at the end of June.

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