Female Future on the Rise? AI & the Dynamics of Business Environment

KeywordsFemale Future – Dynamics of Business Environment

Something caught my eye in the news. And, I thought it’s worthy of talking about on Marketing Voice.

What is the latest threat to female empowerment in the workplace and business in general?

Believe it or not, it’s the AI industry.

With the cases of prejudice towards women, shown by AI; the most recent being the recruitment tool by Amazon; there has been a rising pessimism towards the future of working women in an environment shaped by AI. This is in no way an encouraging sign.

Match this with the 78% of workforce working in the AI industry being male, shaping the future, as well as occupying the best paid jobs of tomorrow. (I am in no way implying that the 22% representation of women itself is a problem. Hiring people on the basis of sex will end up being a bigger problem. We need to create a nourishing environment that pushes people in areas where they can produce the most value possible, for themselves and the society, while being rewarded for it at the same time).

But, AI can be forgiven for both these blunders after a deeper examination.

How Algorithms Work

When Amazon’s recruitment tool started showing a prejudice towards women, the first reaction was to shut down the program. And, rightly so.

But, hopefully, Amazon is now putting time and effort into fixing the problem rather than sweeping it under the rug. Running away from challenges is not the virtue of market leaders.

AI is based on algorithms, which are meant to be shaped by historical data. Given that there has been a significant prejudice towards women in the workplace for centuries, fixing these issues will require extensive time and effort. And, once brought to a level of fair opportunities, some jobs are meant to be outsourced to the AI.

But, that does not mean that humans will be scraped from jobs altogether. We will always have something to do as long as we bring the needed skills to the workplace. And, the said skills-requirement will transform with the rise of AI.

Emotional Intelligence

What is AI meant to do at the workplace?

Extensive mathematical analyses, unsafe work for humans, possibly skills that are seen high valued today.

But, AI is not expected to reach a level of cognitive brilliance anytime soon. This includes emotional intelligence, creative problem solving, empathy, persuasion ability, and negotiation skills.

So, what does this mean for the workplace of tomorrow?

At a psychological and emotional level, cognitive skills are generally the stronger side of women.

In other words, with the changing structure of work because of AI, men may have to try and catch up to remain relevant. When your whole job becomes trying to understand humans, the days of modernism are numbered.

This movement towards postmodernism – human-centricity – has been happening since the 1980s and is supported by data. Since the 1980s, the possibility of female university graduates getting a job has been on a rise, while the same numbers are declining for men – research from University of Zurich suggests.

With the change is societal behaviours in general, at least in the west, the demand for skills where women perform better, i.e. human centricity, has been on the rise. Now, with the rise of AI, these trends are expected to accelerate.

This blog was inspired by Sarah O’Connor’s piece on the Financial Times – The robot-proof skills that give women an edge in the age of AI.

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