If artificial intelligence is going to reach its potential, we need to get more women involved in the industry.
On Monday, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report focused on the global economic gender gap.
According to the WEF's research, a massive gender gap is already forming in the AI workforce — a gap the industry needs to start addressing today if it doesn't want to suffer soon.
Through a collaboration with LinkedIn, the WEF learned that 78 percent of professionals with AI skills are male — a gender gap three times larger than that in other industries.
Women and men don't hold the same types of AI jobs, either. According to the WEF report, men were more likely than women to hold senior positions, such as software engineer or head of engineering. Women in AI, on the other hand, were more likely to hold lower and less lucrative positions, such as data analyst or researcher.
If AI skills increase in demand in the future — as predicted by the WEF report — a gender gap in those skills could mean fewer women are able to participate in the economy as a whole.
Additionally, the AI industry itself could suffer if the AI gender gap continues on its current trajectory. It's already struggling to find enough qualified participants, and it might miss out on opportunities to innovate if it excludes half the population from the development process.
Worth the Effort
According to Saadia Zahidi, a member of the World Economic Forum's managing board, the AI industry can avoid such a fate through "effective training, reskilling, and upskilling interventions and tangible job transition pathways."
In other words, it'll take effort, but we can narrow or possibly even close the AI gender gap — and that could benefit us all.
READ MORE: 108 Years: Wait for Gender Equality Gets Longer as Women’s Share of Workforce, Politics Drops [World Economic Forum]
More on gender in tech: The Tech Industry’s Gender Problem Isn’t Just Hurting Women