Women still face 'massive gender bias' in UK workforce, new AI study finds

'Some sectors appear as ‘virtual economic ghettos’ of men,' says expert 

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Wednesday 20 February 2019 01:13
Comments
The research found some 82 per cent of all CEOs, 92 per cent of chairpersons and 73 per cent of directors are male
The research found some 82 per cent of all CEOs, 92 per cent of chairpersons and 73 per cent of directors are male

Women still face a “massive gender bias” in the UK workforce, a new first of its kind study powered by artificial intelligence has found.

The research, published by the Royal Statistical Society, found around 95 per cent of receptionists, legal secretaries and care assistants are female in the UK, while some 85 per cent of investment bankers are male.

Although men and women were found to be almost as equally likely to participate in the workforce, men continue to be far more likely than women to be in leadership roles across all sectors.

The research found some 82 per cent of all CEOs, 92 per cent of chairpersons and 73 per cent of directors are male – confirming statistics already highlighted by Office of National Statistics research.

Of 108 economic sectors looked at, 87 per cent were found to be biased towards men.

The research was done by Glass A.I – a startup which used technology to read and interpret every website of the internet from the UK.

Sergi Martorell, co-founder of the company, said they were surprised by the findings due to the “sheer scale” of gender bias across different sectors of the UK economy.

“We saw massive segregation of roles in different economic sectors – a level of detail we can’t get in official stats,” he said. “Some sectors appear as ‘virtual economic ghettos’ of men or women.”

“The findings reveal massive levels of gender imbalance, much more than previously suspected. It is well known that there is a male bias in the board room, and the study supports known gender biases, but it also reveals much starker segregation than previously understood, and complex gender dispersal patterns varying wildly across sectors and job types.”

He said the research showed more detail than previous research – saying it was the first time a new AI system that understands written language has been used to read the entire UK’s internet (200m web pages) and examine the workplace roles for men and women.

Mr Martorell added: “This AI technique is a world first and we believe it will open the door for more AI-based research using the open web as a live laboratory or mirror of complex social and economic issues.”

The study found creative industries such as media, music, internet and photography also remain overwhelmingly male-dominated and heavily male-biased.

It did expose some female-dominated sectors too – with primary and secondary education found to be 71 per cent female and veterinary science 78 per cent female.

Ana-Maria Huluba, a data scientist who oversaw the study, said the findings demonstrate ”the sheer scale of bias across ordinary jobs and the level of gender segregation between sectors”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in