ech marketing and professional futurists once heralded artificial intelligence (AI) as a great equalizer: simple mathematical code could eliminate the prejudices inherent in human decision-making. This would lead, among other things, to fairer and more equitable workplaces. But if we look at the current state of the AI sector, we see anything but.
The AI industry is in a diversity crisis. You can see it in the statistics of who gets jobs in the industry, what jobs they get, and how long they stay. For example, women comprise 15 percent of AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google. It’s not much better in academia, with recent studies showing only 18 percent of authors at leading AI conferences are women, and more than 80 percent of AI professors are male. For black workers, the picture is worse—only 2.5 percent of Google’s workforce is black, while Facebook and Microsoft are each at 4 percent. Given the decades of investment to improve diversity, these figures are alarming.
This diversity crisis is not just about women—it’s about gender and race, and most fundamentally about power. It’s about who gets a say over how companies work, what products get built, and who they are best designed for. And the evidence shows that in the companies leading the field, women, people of color, and gender minorities are systematically underpaid and pushed out, excluded from AI conferences, ethics boards, and corporate hierarchies.