Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is the fastest-growing field of employment in the world, and also one of the largest fastest growing sectors.
Traditionally, STEM sector industries have been male-dominated, but in recent years, there has been a rising interest in hiring women for these jobs. One of the underlying reasons for the opening up of the technologically advanced employment sectors for women is the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies.
The evolution of AI-based automation has made technology capable of performing an ever-increasing number of applications. We are not only witnessing enhanced automation, but also superior ease of usage. With machines becoming smarter, faster and highly intuitive, the time is ripe for women to master them to their advantage in the world of employment.
For example, coding is getting simpler by the day. Today, it is easy to find apps and training options online, which make it easy for women from non-tech backgrounds to easily code and create programmes.
The globally-renowned MIT in the USA has been focusing on developing learning and training facilities that help attract more girls towards technology. Under the MIT Solve initiative, a game titled Erase All Kittens (EAK) has been developed. This game is designed to inspire girls to learn coding with professional languages such as HTML and CSS in a fun-with-learning style.
Until now, women had been less involved with technology since their traits like intuitiveness, adaptability, and social etiquettes made them better suited at skilled non-tech jobs. However, technology and smart machines are taking over almost all areas of operations, including STEM.
Being adaptive to change gives women unique dynamics that can help them master AI-based technologies in a better way than men. When it comes to mathematics or logical reasoning, there might not be much difference in capabilities of men and women, but when it comes to problem-solving, creative or intuitive thinking, women have proved their mettle time and again.
Back in the 1960s, Jean E Sammet developed Formula Manipulation Compiler or FORMAC, which was an early stage FORTRAN-based computer algebra system.
It went on to become the first large-scale computer language that helped in symbolic manipulation of mathematical formulas. The creator of Domain Name System (DNS) that is used globally was also a woman: Elizabeth Feinler.
The entry of women in technology and automation-oriented workplaces is not only beneficial from a gender perspective, but also from the commercial standpoint.
It has been observed that companies with a diverse workforce, which include a substantial number of women, perform 15 per cent better than companies that are male-dominated. It is amply clear that the lack of women in technology-dominated fields like IT is not due to lack of capability, but because of mental and social blocks.
In fact, it is quite interesting to observe that the percentage of women in tech in India (35 per cent of total workforce) is much higher than countries like United Kingdom (17 per cent) and United States (20 per cent). This is an indicator of the fact that women in India are taking to technology better than their western counterparts.
A report by Brookings Institution states that women (48 per cent) scored better than men (45 per cent) when it comes to handling digital technology.
According to me, one of the main reasons why women can and should dominate the future of automation and technology is the transformation towards design thinking. The AI-powered technologies of today are rapidly becoming simplified and with voice and gesture-based automation, the role of complex UIs will keep getting diminished.
The need of the hour is going to be women-driven and women-oriented design thinking and that’s where women are inclined to excel. Using AI-based tools, women can master digital technology better, as already evidenced by the Brookings Institute report.
About 70 per cent of young girls show interest in STEM (US data) and there is a need to convert that interest into a career in today’s automation-driven environment.