Working paper

A gender perspective on artificial intelligence and jobs: The vicious cycle of digital inequality

How do gender stereotypes and gendered work segregation, and digitalisation and automation, result in a vicious cycle of digital gender inequality?

Publishing date
30 August 2022
AI woman

The worldwide artificial intelligence market is expected to increase enormously in the next few years. Because of AI’s immense potential, virtually all industries will be affected by the implementation of AI systems, resulting in the digitalisation and automation of work processes. This will cause disruptive shifts in labour markets, in terms of the number and profiles of jobs in industries as well as worker skill requirements.

We take a gender perspective and analyse how gender stereotypes and gendered work segregation on the one hand, and digitalisation and automation (as a consequence of AI implementation) on the other hand, are entangled and result in a vicious cycle of digital gender inequality. We provide insights into the gender-specific impact of AI technologies, which is relevant for the mitigation of the potential risk of the creation of social inequality and exclusion. We show that existing empirical evidence already indicates that AI will not increase gender equality but will somewhat further exacerbate the gender inequality in labour markets, ranging from further horizontal and vertical occupational gender segregation to an increase in the gender pay gap. We summarise policy guidance and measures to decrease gender inequality in the future.

About the authors

  • Estrella Gomez-Herrera

    Estrella Gomez-Herrera is a Visiting Fellow at Bruegel and a Professor at the University of Balearic Islands. Previously, she worked as a research fellow at the European Commission. Her research is related to Digital Markets, Short-Term Rental, Digital Single Market or Artificial Intelligence, among others. She has published more than 20 papers on these topics on top academic journals. She has presented the results of her research at more than 30 national and international conferences, including the Paris Seminar on the Economy of Digitalization, NBER Summer Institute IT and Digitalization or CESIfo Summer Institute. She currently conducts research with co-authors from leading institutions such as Bocconi University, the Max Planck Institute, Télécom Paris, the Universities of Zurich, Minnesota, and Manchester and the European Commission. Finally, in the social and business sphere, she has contacted and maintained dialogue with the most important companies that provide digital laboru services, helping them to improve their business models.

  • Sabine T. Koeszegi

    Prof. Dr Sabine Theresia Köszegi has been a Labour Science and Organisation Professor at TU Wien since 2009. Her research focuses on the intersection of technology, gender, work and organisation. In 2020, she was awarded the Käthe-Leichter Prize for Excellence in Gender Studies and Equality in the World of Work. She was a member of the European Commission's Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and Chair of the Austrian Council on Robotics and AI in Policy Advice. Currently, she leads the PhD program Trust Robots and the transdisciplinary research project Caring Robots.

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