A turning point has been reached.

TH – 11/2021

Advances in computing power, big data, and new algorithms have led to major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular has now also highlighted and accelerated the growing use of AI in everyday life. AI is capable of transforming all aspects of life, including the world of work. AI systems also offer new opportunities for gender development and equality, but their use also poses new challenges and risks. Patterns of gender inequality could be created or reinforced, in particular existing gender inequalities in the labour market are likely to lead to gender-specific effects. Similar concerns must be allowed in the context of the increasing adoption of AI technologies in personnel management, as well as the massive emergence of platform work.


A report by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), prepared during the Slovenian Council Presidency, looks at these issues in detail.

Many problems, few opportunities

AI is changing the job market in many ways. The study highlights that women are at a slightly higher risk of losing their jobs due to automation. Women are largely underrepresented in the recruitment of new AI talent in spite of rising demand. Gender bias and inherent discrimination in the algorithmic technologies used to manage the workforce reinforce pre-existing gender inequalities. However, there are also opportunities, particularly in the area of platform work, which give reason for hope, at least in the area of gender equality. More women have started to work on digital platforms; it is well known that this form of work allows more flexibility, and there is also less gender segregation than in the traditional labour market. On the other hand, women and men working on platforms have poor social protection.

Action is needed on many fronts, and one is not idle

For example, the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 identifies AI as a key and driver of economic progress. This is why women must be among the AI developers, researchers and programmers. This strategy also requires addressing segregation, stereotyping and gender gaps in education. Ultimately, greater diversity in the AI development sector will also help eliminate previous unfair biases in data.


Following the publication of a White Paper on AI in 2020, the European Commission made a Proposal for regulation of AI, the Artificial Intelligence Act, in April 2021. The aim is to establish harmonised rules for AI, uphold the values and principles of the European Union, protect fundamental rights, including gender equality, and increase user safety.


There is no lack of action when it comes to platform work either: the European Commission has announced a legislative initiative in the Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan still this year.


It is to be hoped that the cooperation of all parties involved will be intensified and accelerated as a solution for all is only possible with the participation of all.


Click here for the study.