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How Do Women Feel About AI in the Workplace?

woman smiles at AI system

The introduction of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in the workplace has resulted in many employees feeling excitement over the seemingly limitless opportunities, but others are harboring concerns over potentially being replaced by the technology.

Nichol Bradford, the executive-in-residence for SHRM’s AI+HI initiative, said that the danger, disruption and fear associated with the rise of GenAI is really about people who cannot transition the way they work—and how companies can support them.

“How do we actually change the way that we upskill and retrain people to support these people?” she asked on the SHRM Executive Network’s People + Strategy podcast last month. “And that’s where the crux of the matter is, and that’s where the only way to get to it is to get into it.”

Many employees feel uneasy about a more AI-centric workplace, but women largely feel prepared for this transition, according to a new survey of 14,677 women spanning 11 countries.

The study, commissioned by Indeed, found that 75 percent of women reported feeling “at or above an intermediate level” in handling technology such as GenAI, and 57 percent feel prepared to deal with the impact of the tools on their careers.

“As women navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the workforce, embracing new technologies like generative AI can be a game-changer for career advancement, especially as GenAI is the No. 1 tech skill that has the potential to increase your salary,” said Hannah Calhoon, head of AI innovation at Indeed.

Among women who reported that technology such as GenAI improved their professional lives:

  • 55 percent said it allowed for quicker and clearer communication with colleagues.
  • 48 percent said it allowed for remote work.
  • 45 percent said it sped up work considerably.
  • 39 percent said it reduced repetitive administrative tasks so they could concentrate on more important aspects of their jobs.
  • 29 percent said it helped improve corporate culture or work atmosphere.

A growing list of companies are restricting ChatGPT use at work, but organizations that embrace GenAI may have an upper hand in recruiting talent, Calhoon said.

“In today’s digital age, proficiency in such tools is not just a skill, but a strategic asset,” she said. “By mastering generative AI, women can unlock new opportunities, streamline processes and amplify their impact in the workplace.”

[Learn how to leverage AI and human ingenuity (HI) to drive organizational growth with SHRM.]

Women Expected to Be More Exposed to AI

A 2023 report by HiringLab, Indeed’s economic research arm, showed that women tend to work in jobs with slightly more exposure to GenAI than men do. These jobs include administrative, management and sales positions.

A separate study, conducted by New York City-based Revelio Labs and published by Bloomberg in 2023, indicated that jobs predominantly held by women are most at risk of being replaced by AI. These positions include bill and account collectors, payroll and timekeeping clerks, executive secretaries, word processors and typists, and accounting specialists.

Hakki Ozdenoren, an economist at Revelio Labs, told SHRM Online in 2023 that GenAI is not programmed to be more inclined to replace workers based on gender. Instead, historic gender-related trends in the job market play a factor.

“Women are underemployed in technical occupations and overrepresented in ‘supporting’ occupations like administrative assistants,” she said. “It happens to be the case that the abilities of generative AI overlapped more with support occupations, exacerbating the existing bias.”

GenAI Use Should Be Inclusive

Yvette Wolfe, the education pillar lead for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Women in AI group, said organizations must promote gender parity in AI by providing women with resource groups and training opportunities to ensure equitable access to GenAI.

“With women compromising only 28 percent of the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] workforce, it behooves the AI field to lead the tech industry in gender equality, as all professionals, regardless of gender, must learn new skills for the future of work,” she said.

Wolfe explained that companies can prepare women for a GenAI takeover in the workplace by offering upskilling and reskilling opportunities and emphasizing the technical and soft skills that are critical to working with GenAI.

She also highlighted the need for inclusivity related to GenAI use at work. Ensuring that diverse talent has a seat at the table for both AI policy and strategy decisions, as well as engineering or automation projects, is “critical to a company’s ability to build and use AI ethically and responsibly,” Wolfe said. Without full representation, companies will put themselves at risk for weak spots, leading to biases and incomplete datasets.

The technology is ubiquitous now, but if HR leaders don’t recognize the critical need for education and inclusivity around GenAI, “they’ll risk losing top talent to competitors who are providing this for their workforce,” Wolfe said.

“Equally important is building an inclusive community where women are valued leaders in AI,” she added. “Women need a place where they can come together, network and develop new skills with the support of other women and allies.”

Calhoon leads a cross-functional team at Indeed that is helping employees of all backgrounds prioritize and better understand GenAI in their products and internal departments. This team also brainstorms the most effective ways to upskill talent companywide and responsibly leverage GenAI.

“We encourage all workplaces using AI, in any capacity, to train their own staff on how to use it and what AI even does,” she said. “It's not just about keeping up with the latest trends; it’s about shaping the future of work and ensuring women have a seat at the table.”

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​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.