Women in Tech Lead Adoption of Generative AI Tools, BCG Study Finds

A Boston Consulting Group study finds that 68% of women in the tech industry use Generative AI tools more than once a week, surpassing men. The study highlights key attributes driving the gender difference in adoption, including awareness, confidence, and risk tolerance.

Nitish Verma
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Women in Tech Lead Adoption of Generative AI Tools, BCG Study Finds

Women in Tech Lead Adoption of Generative AI Tools, BCG Study Finds

A recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reveals that women in the tech industry are leading the way in adopting Generative AI (GenAI) tools at work. The study found that 68% of women use GenAI tools more than once a week, compared to 66% of men, marking a notable shift as women have historically been less likely to adopt new technologies than their male counterparts.

Why this matters: The adoption of GenAI tools by women in tech could have a significant impact on the industry's gender gap, as it presents an opportunity for women to take on more prominent roles and bridge the existing disparities. As GenAI continues to shape the tech industry, it is crucial to address the underlying barriers that hinder women's adoption of these tools, ensuring that the benefits of this technology are equitably distributed.

The BCG study highlights several key findings across different seniority levels and roles. Senior women in technical functions such as engineering, IT, customer support, sales, and marketing are ahead of their male counterparts in adopting GenAI, leading by an average of 14 percentage points. Women senior managers in non-technical functions like human resources, legal, and finance trail their male peers by only 2 percentage points.

However, the study also reveals some concerning trends. Junior women in technical roles lag their male counterparts by an average of 7 percentage points, which could exacerbate existing pipeline challenges in tech companies. Women in non-technical functions lag the most in adoption, at 21 percentage points, increasing the risk of losing gains in representation as GenAI continues to affect roles and career success.

The BCG study identified three key attributes driving the gender difference in GenAI adoption: awareness of GenAI's criticality, confidence in GenAI skills, and tolerance for risk. While men and women have similar levels of trust in GenAI tools to meet their objectives and feel equally competent using them, there are variations across seniority levels. Senior women are similarly or even more aware of the potential impact of GenAI on job success, while junior women are less aware. Senior women in non-technical functions lag their male peers in confidence by 8 percentage points, and junior women in all functions are behind by 7-11 percentage points. In terms of risk tolerance, senior women report a level equal to or greater than their male peers, while junior women lag by 9-16 percentage points.

To reduce the gender gap in the tech industry, BCG recommends that companies tackle the three root causes of gender differences through leadership advocacy and change management, targeted upskilling programs, robust pilot design and clear responsible AI policies, and proactive career management. "GenAI presents a unique opportunity to narrow the gender gap in the tech industry, but it requires proactive actions from both companies and the women employed by them," said Maria Barisano, Managing Director and Partner at BCG.

Neveen Awad, Managing Director and Partner at BCG, emphasized the importance of equity in GenAI adoption, stating, "Companies must be hyper-focused on enacting measures that increase equity in GenAI's adoption, but also support all employees' adoption of GenAI." With fewer than 30% of middle managers and senior leaders in tech today being women, the BCG study underscores the critical need for proactive measures to ensure that the rise of GenAI tools does not widen the existing gender disparities in the industry.

Key Takeaways

  • Women in tech lead in adopting GenAI tools, with 68% using them weekly, vs 66% of men.
  • Senior women in technical roles lead men in GenAI adoption by 14 percentage points.
  • Jr women in technical roles lag men by 7 percentage points, exacerbating pipeline challenges.
  • Awareness, confidence, and risk tolerance drive gender differences in GenAI adoption.
  • Companies must take proactive measures to ensure equity in GenAI adoption and narrow the gender gap.