Women are more hesitant to use AI in their professional lives as they believe it threatens their roles.
AI is no longer a lore of science fiction movies but a reality in everyday life. People are using it both in personal, as well as, professional endeavors. According to Statista, it is supposed to grow tenfold by 2030. Despite all its potential and features, there is a definite disparity visible in its use. Women seem to be more dismissive of AI in comparison to men, as reported by BBC. A recent survey by FlexJobs revealed that only 35% of women incorporated AI in their personal and professional lives in comparison to almost 53% of men. Many reasons can be pointed out for this disparity, ranging from professional to social.
Certain women do not want to use AI to retain originality, which is a huge demand for their profession. Michelle Leivars, a London-based business coach, believes that her clients come because they find something unique in her write-ups. "Clients have said they booked sessions with me because the copy on my website didn't feel cookie cutter and that I was speaking directly to them," she says. "People who know me have gone onto the website and said that they can hear me saying the words and they could tell it was me straight away."
Hayley Bystram runs a matchmaking agency, which, in her opinion, has to function on authenticity. In order to truly form connections, people have to speak for themselves and not allow an AI algorithm to do that. "The place where we could use something such as ChatGPT is in our carefully crafted member profiles, which can take up to half a day to create," she says. "But for me, it would take the soul and the personalization out of the process and it feels like it's cheating, so we carry on doing it the long-winded way."
Alexandra Coward, a business strategist based in Paisley, Scotland, works on principles that do not use AI. She believes this tendency to become "the slimmest, youngest and hippest versions of themselves" is disturbing. It takes away from the real human being. In her opinion, this practice will lead to a time when people will lose touch with themselves.
AI expert Jodie Cook believes that this disparity is a result of women's lack of presence in STEM fields [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]. Despite performing equally and often better academically, women only make up 34% of the workforce, according to the American Association of University Women. AI has been associated with skills in the STEM field, which women feel underconfident about due to cultural and social factors.
Cook shares, "Even though many tools don't require technical proficiency, if more women don't view themselves as technically skilled, they might not experiment with them. And AI also still feels like science fiction. In the media and popular culture, science fiction tends to be marketed at men."
Cook points out a lack of confidence as the reason, while psychologist Lee Chambers thinks the exact opposite. He believes that women ensure that they have more competence in a task before getting into it, which is not the case with men. Therefore, the latter are more willing to use AI, as they believe they will get better results involving that tool. Women don't think so and believe their own efforts can get the best outcome. Harriet Kelsall, a jeweler in Cambridge, does not trust AI with her business. She puts more credence into creativity.
Social attitude also plays a role in this disparity. Women's achievements are more likely to be questioned compared to men and incorporating AI will give people more fodder to criticize. Chambers explains, "Women are already discredited and have their ideas taken by men and passed off as their own, so having people knowing that you use an AI might also play into that narrative that you're not qualified enough. It's just another thing that's debasing your skills, your competence, your value."