How Artificial Intelligence Can Narrow the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

A new study led by researchers in Australia finds that the use of artificial intelligence in recruitment changes the gender distribution of potential hires, in some cases more than doubling the fraction of top applicants that are women.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that human resources professionals assessing applications for a web designer position scored women “substantially lower” than men when they knew the gender of the applicant. When the recruiters did not know the gender of the applicant, men and women were rated equally.

Researchers also used an artificial intelligence program to rate the qualifications of the applicants. When human recruiters were shown the AI evaluations before making their own recommendations, men and women were rated equally. The study also found that job seekers who knew that their application would be judged by a computer instead of a human increased the number of women who completed the application process by about 30 percentage points relative to males. The researchers concluded that women job seekers believed they would be judged more fairly by an artificial intelligence program than by human recruiters.

The authors conclude that their research “provides insights on the possible removal of barriers in recruitment women face when entering male-dominated tech jobs when AI tools are introduced. It is likely that the introduction of AI tools will impact not just recruitment but other environments where barriers exist. For example, it is conceivable that AI tools will assist in the early identification of talent and thus perhaps encourage women to obtain a tech degree. It is also conceivable that AI tools will assist employers in the assessment of hired employees and this may improve women’s chances for career advancement.”

The full study, “Does Artificial Intelligence Help or Hurt Gender Diversity? Evidence from Two Field Experiments on Recruitment in Tech,” may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields

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