Randstad: Women are Being Left Behind in the AI Skills Race

AI has one of the lowest female presence out of all the skills that Randstad has surveyed, with women representing just 21% of the overall talent pool
Research conducted by Randstad reveals an obvious gender imbalance within the AI sector, highlighting a crucial business need for AI equity moving forward

Randstad’s 2024 Global In-demand Skills research, which analyses the top nine in-demand skills for businesses across 23 countries, reveals a stark gender imbalance within the AI skills talent pool.

The research finds that women comprise just 21% of the overall talent pool in AI and automation, with global gender imbalances continuing to grow across the sector. As a result, Randstad is calling on employees to prioritise equitable skilling opportunities to ensure that everyone is able to succeed in the industry.

Given such a rapid increase in demand for AI skills, the company’s research highlights that more needs to be done to prioritise gender diversity.

Current gender imbalances within the AI sector

In 2023, there was a 20-fold increase in roles demanding generative AI (Gen AI) skills, highlighting how mainstream the need for AI skills has become.

Randstad indicates that these sought after skills also indicate an imbalance between high demand and low supply, with few specialised employees able to fill relevant roles. With talent in AI and automation five to eight times more difficult to recruit for, Randstad suggests that demand for senior AI talent is 89% higher on average.

AI has one of the lowest female presence out of all the skills that Randstad has surveyed, with women representing just 21% of the overall talent pool.

Similarly, a 2020 World Economic Forum report found that women make up only 26% of data and AI positions in the workforce, which can be viewed in comparison to the 74% increase of the AI Specialist job position in the United States.

Other skill sets are more evenly balanced, however, with the customer service talent pool at 43% female and marketing, content and advertising at 40%. Randstad also notes that some countries have more women working in these areas, with women representing about 44% of new AI talent entering the market in India and Australia, for example.

Despite these examples, the gender imbalance continues to grow worldwide.

These inequalities are not driven by an unwillingness of women to upskill and re-skill in AI, with Randstad’s Workmonitor 2024 revealing that one-third (34%) of women would not consider joining a company that does not provide learning opportunities for future-proofing skills like AI.

Likewise, Randstad highlights how research by The Global In-Demand Skills found that those who upskill in AI infrastructure and machine learning can demand higher wages for their services - suggesting that women may be missing out on higher earnings potential.

Upskilling women in AI is essential for the global business landscape

In its report, Randstad is calling for businesses to prioritise upskilling and re-skilling female workers through measures such as:
  • Offering flexible AI training and development programmes and opportunities that fit in with existing responsibilities
  • Making sure career pathways are clear, setting out the clear opportunities for AI roles after the necessary training has been completed
  • Providing scholarships and mentorships programs in AI and automation targeted towards women
  • Highlighting and celebrating women's achievements in the AI field and encouraging successful women to mentor aspiring professionals

These efforts will ultimately help to shape a more equitable workforce, as well as mitigating the ever-growing shortage of AI professionals.

It will also help to prevent AI biases from growing, as more women working in and developing AI will introduce new data and more perspectives for models to learn from. As AI is trained and tested on existing data, preventing it from reflecting existing biases and excluding certain demographics, including women, will be vital moving forward.

“Our new research reveals a growing gender in-balance in AI skills, with females currently representing a disproportionate amount of the AI talent pool across the world,” says Myriam Beatove Moreale, Chief Human Resources Officer at Randstad. “Businesses must act immediately to remove the barriers currently standing in the way of AI skilling opportunities for women, or we run the risk of creating an AI glass ceiling.”

She continues: “Addressing this issue is not only essential to creating a more equitable workforce where everyone reaps the benefits presented by AI, it’s also a strategic business imperative. Demand for AI skills are at an all-time high, yet they are the hardest to recruit for. Businesses need every player on the pitch to avoid intense AI talent scarcity and to ensure a diverse industry with different perspectives and viewpoints.”

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