Artificial Intelligence

Gender gap in AI: men dominate new PhDs in AI

14th June 2024
Sheryl Miles

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing fast, taking over the digital space while influencing how people live, work, and even play.

Despite its rapid growth, there is a huge gender disparity in the field, particularly evident in the academic pipeline of AI researchers.  According to, men dominate 79% of new PhDs in AI. The gender gap highlights inclusivity issues and diversity in the most influential career path of the century.

Edith Read, an analyst from Stocklytics, comments: “Historically, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields have seen a dominance of male participants, and AI is no exception. Despite various initiatives and efforts to promote gender diversity in STEM, the underrepresentation of women in AI remains stark.

State of AI PhDs

Women are significantly underrepresented in many aspects of this emerging technology. AI and advanced analytics are set to drive the future economy, making this disparity critical. The trend has persisted for over a decade. In 2010 only 18% of AI PhD students were women, while 82% were men. By 2013, the percentage of women graduating with AI PhDs had dropped to 13%. However, 2014 showed some promise, with women making up 23% of AI PhD graduates.

“Women are not visible in AI and tech because of the widespread myth in the male-dominated tech industry that women are not technical enough and there aren’t enough qualified women – even when women account for one third of the tech workforce,” says Mia Shah-Dand, Founder of Women in AI Ethics and CEO of Lighthouse3. “This idea is so pervasive that the media, educational institutions, and even the government blames lack of diversity on the STEM pipeline gap.”

She continues to point out that training resources often misdirect funding. She criticises the funnelling of millions into reductive solutions like coding camps, which undermine efforts to boost women’s representation in leadership roles and inadequately fund programmes supporting women’s retention in the tech workforce.

Strategies of inclusion in the gender gap

The modest 3% decline in the gender gap since 2010 underscores the need for urgent action. Addressing this issue requires a collective effort to encourage young girls and women to pursue STEM courses supported by mentorship programmes, fellowships, and inclusive policies. Universities and tech companies must create an environment where women interested in AI can thrive.

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