Female AI workforce grows but few women climbing ladder

Technology, Telecommunications

The number of women in AI engineering has risen more than twofold and businesses in the field are tapping more females for leadership roles.

Fresh research from LinkedIn also shows career challenges facing women in artificial intelligence, who remain the minority and hold fewer jobs higher up the ranks.

The findings come after the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index revealed a slim 0.1 per cent improvement, predicting women would not achieve workforce parity for another 134 years.

LinkedIn's research surveyed more than 31,000 people in 31 countries, studying the growing workplace use of AI and the representation of women.

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It found more than four in five knowledge workers in Australia were using AI tools, and the number of people listing AI skills on their LinkedIn profiles had soared since 2023.

Positive and negative trends were identified for women in AI roles, with the number employed in AI engineering climbing 171 per cent since 2016. Similar roles for men rose more slowly at 126 per cent over the same period.

Yet women made up only 27 per cent of workers creating AI technology, which represents a rise of 3.5 per cent since 2016.

While the growth was positive, employers should carefully consider how they offered on-the-job AI training to provide greater gender balance, says LinkedIn Australia and New Zealand country manager Matt Tindale.

"We are reaching a pivotal moment as generative AI starts to impact the labour market with a recalibration of the skills employers value most," he said.

"Employers must ensure they apply a gender lens to their approach in up-skilling to establish the future workplace in a fair and equitable way."

The LinkedIn research also found more women were being hired for leadership positions, from 34 per cent in 2016 to 41 per cent in 2024, and the rate was higher in Australia than the US, UK, and France.

But representation of women fell as roles progressed from manager (39 per cent) to director (36 per cent) and vice-president (23 per cent).

Systematic changes would be needed to address the workplace imbalance, the study found.

Among them are skills-based approaches to hiring, inclusive hiring practices, mentorship schemes and equitable training in fields including artificial intelligence.

The World Economic Forum report released earlier in June found the gender gap now stands at 68.6 per cent across 146 countries.

Iceland led the index for gender balance followed by Finland, Norway, and New Zealand. Australia ranked 24th, with a gender gap of 78 per cent.

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