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Empowering Women in Tech to Navigate the AI Revolution

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By Orla Daly, Chief Information Officer, Skillsoft

In an era of technological advancements, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have become key considerations for IT decision-makers, highlighting their critical role in driving innovation and maintaining competitive advantage.

According to Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report, AI and ML are the biggest areas of focus for IT leaders. However, 43% rate their teams’ AI skill set as low or somewhat low, revealing a significant gap in the skills required to leverage these technologies effectively. This gap is even more apparent among women in the field.

Skillsoft’s 2024 Women in Tech Report reveals that while 40% of women actively utilise AI in their professional roles, 63% report a lack of AI skills and training. 72% of women acknowledge that AI has increased efficiency and productivity, highlighting its transformative impact and upside potential. This underlines the importance of closing the gap in AI skills to drive individual and team productivity and capitalise on the potential for AI to enable improved business outcomes, providing a platform for career growth and advancement.

Women surveyed recognise this potential, with 41% of women expressing interest in learning about Analytics, AI, and ML, displaying a keen interest in acquiring the relevant skills to forge a path in this transformative field.

So, how can organisations support women to not just survive, but thrive in the AI era?

  1. Implement Upskilling and Reskilling Programs.

    The best way to stay competitive in today’s workforce is skills development. Upskilling and reskilling provide avenues for career progression, job security, and increased earning potential. For women, these programs should include hands-on AI experience, understanding its language, and learning how to make it work for them. Investing in education and training programs tailored to emerging industries and technologies can equip women with the skills needed to remain competitive in the job market and transition into new roles that leverage their talents and expertise.
  2. Foster Human Skills.

    While AI technology is critical, organisations still depend heavily on human skills like creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report listed the top leadership competencies for 2024, and the list was primarily comprised of power skills that women naturally excel in. Women bring unique skills and fresh perspectives to leadership roles. Communication, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence are crucial in empowering women to engage with AI innovation. By leveraging these power skills, women can contribute significantly to AI innovation and guide its path in a way that is inclusive, ethical, and beneficial for all.

  3. Promote Gender-Inclusive AI Development.

    To ensure unbiased results, organisations must ensure that AI datasets accurately and equally represent women. AI systems can reflect and even amplify societal biases in the data they’re trained on. By including diverse perspectives, experiences, and voices, gender-inclusive AI development can better address the needs and concerns of all genders. Directly engaging women in the development of AI solutions will help mitigate bias.

  4. Prioritise time for innovation and connect to the flow of work

    Prioritising time for innovation and AI learning is important to allow space for learning and development. Connecting innovation to business priorities is a strategic investment that will yield significant long-term benefits with better business results as well as fostering a culture of continuous improvement and future-readiness. This proactive approach not only enhances the skill set of the workforce, making new practices routine but also prepares the company to adapt to changing market demands and technological advancements.

    Studies show this investment, connecting new skill learning to business priorities boosts positive employee involvement and loyalty creating a win-win situation.

  5. Establish Support Networks and Mentorship Programs.

    Strong networks play a vital role in encouraging women’s involvement in AI. Networks provide women with essential support, opportunities, and resources, serving as a gateway to job openings, mentorship programs, training sessions, and industry events focused on AI. Through these networks, women can gain valuable insights and access a supportive community of professionals. Mentors and coaches offer guidance, share experiences, and provide encouragement, helping women navigate their AI careers with confidence.

While the disruptive impact of AI raises concerns, it also presents an opportunity for women to showcase their adaptability and resilience, and drive improved business outcomes, increasing their value to an organisation. By taking proactive steps—pursuing education, leveraging their unique strengths, advocating for inclusivity, and supporting each other—women can shape an AI-driven future that is equitable, ethical, and beneficial for all.

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