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2023 was certainly ChatGPT’s breakout year. After launching in late 2022, Open AI’s new generative AI platform enabled users to ask for help in writing cover letters, debugging code, crafting original jokes and coming up with gift ideas for loved ones.

With the novelty of this ‘new’ way to experience AI taking the internet by storm, Instagram, X, and TikTok saw users upload screenshots of their funniest (and most useful) interactions with the AI text box – showing that AI was no longer just for tech whizzes.

Soon enough, people were finding ways to utilise ChatGPT in the workplace. In fact, according to our latest survey, 84% of women in tech roles are now using ChatGPT every day in their roles, primarily to improve productivity (58%) and speed (47%).

AI requires a lot of data in order to work, and if that data is male-dominated, it will teach itself that men are the preferred candidate – thereby excluding women.

Generative AI is applicable to many sectors – including tech, education, graphic design and copywriting. Teachers can use it to help draft lesson plans, real estate agents to write property listings, and students as an alternative research tool to Google. The opportunities for its use are seemingly endless.

However, there are growing concerns around the future of the workforce, with 25% believing it will push women out of employment – and 47% agreeing that the potential imbalance in tech will cause AI models to be biased.

And there are many examples of this imbalance already causing problems.

In the recruitment industry, unintentional bias in AI models and algorithm development can result in a lack of diversity among shortlisted candidates. AI requires a lot of data in order to work, and if that data is male-dominated, it will teach itself that men are the preferred candidate – thereby excluding women.

Amazon learnt this the hard way back in 2015. The computer model trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a ten-year period were picking up on one key factor – they were mostly men. In short, the system taught itself that male candidates were preferable, reflecting the gender imbalance in the industry. It penalised resumes that included the word “women’s” and downgraded graduates of all-women colleges. In short, by not prioritising diversity in its development, we risk building models that are inherently discriminatory against race and gender minorities.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the wider gender imbalance in tech is having a detrimental effect on the effective and ethical use of AI models.

The gender imbalance in tech is also resulting in some far more nefarious uses of AI.

Earlier this year, sexually explicit AI-generated images of singer Taylor Swift began circling on X. As one of the most prominent examples of AI-generated fake pornography, the images attracted more than 45 million views, 24,000 reposts and thousands of likes before the images were finally removed (after 17 hours) from the platform.

And this is not the first time this has happened. In the gaming community (which is also overtly male), a well-known, young female Twitch streamer discovered that her likeness had been used in fake pornographic videos – and it spread through the community, fast.

It’s something our community is worried about, too, with 22% stating that their greatest concern about AI is the distribution of harmful content – pertinent, perhaps, considering that women are fast becoming the primary victim.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the wider gender imbalance in tech is having a detrimental effect on the effective and ethical use of AI models. With the market estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 21.6% between 2023 – 2030, the need for diversity in AI development will only continue to grow in importance.

Now more than ever, businesses and organisations must work harder to recruit and retain diverse tech teams that can build and deliver innovative, effective, and gender-balanced AI models. If not, we risk excluding – and hurting – women in the process.

Anna BrailsfordAbout the Author

Anna Brailsford is the CEO of Code First Girls (CFG) and a Board Member of the Institute of Coding. Prior to CFG, Anna co-founded her own EdTech startup and was the Commercial Director of Lynda.com. Anna oversaw LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, becoming part of the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history; a deal she says, on paper, is her greatest business achievement to date.