Is AI for Better or for Worse? The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Women’s Jobs in Africa

As the world embraces the transformative power of artificial intelligence, concerns about its potential impact on employment, particularly for women, have gained prominence. Drawing insights from developed countries by examining the trends, opportunities, and actions (policies) the impact of AI on women’s jobs or employment in Africa can be assessed.

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has ushered in a new era of technological advancements with the potential to change the landscape of the global job market. While the application of AI promises increased efficiency and innovation, it has come with concerns about its impact on employment. The fear is that AI will take over jobs because it is able to do what man can do. And true to this prediction, to an extent, this is happening. In Bavaria Germany, in 2023, there was the report of AI leading service in a church and preaching instead of a pastor. This fear of job loss is general but it is particularly so for vulnerable groups such as women.  

AI will have its advantages and disadvantages. Research shows that there will be creation of new jobs which is positive. However, there are concerns that AI will lead to job loss as well as job displacement. The fear which is equality or gender-related is that women will probably be more affected by job loss or displacement than men. This is because there are more women in the customer service, food service, social service or community service sector, areas that are predicted to be affected by the growth of AI. Despite the prediction that AI will create new jobs, few women will benefit due to the number of women in STEM. The assumption is based on the type of jobs that have been affected by the deployment of AI in developed countries. In the US for example, powered by artificial intelligence, new technologies are taking over tasks not only from warehouse workers but also from white-collar workers and professionals. Automated teller machines have taken over the tasks of bank tellers; accounting software has automated the work of bookkeepers. Now computers can diagnose breast cancer from X-rays and predict survival rates at least as well as the average radiologist. The impact of AI is expected to affect more women than men.   

This essay analyses the anticipated consequences of AI on women’s jobs in Africa, leveraging the experiences, responses, and management of the development by developed countries as a lens for exploration. It also links to the discourse of the future of work which is an emerging discourse. The importance of these discourses is that they top topical issues in the general global discourse today. 


To understand the potential impact of AI on women’s jobs in Africa, it is crucial to examine the global landscape as well as the status quo in Africa. It is trite, by virtue of early application, developed countries have witnessed significant transformations in their labour markets due to the integration of AI technologies. Automation, machine learning, and robotics have led to the displacement of certain jobs while creating new opportunities in sectors requiring advanced technical skills. For example, in industries such as health care, transport and logistics, customer service, and home maintenance. In the health industry in South Africa, as of 2020, AI could access health, prescribe, and dispense drugs to patients. In 2023, almost 4,000 American jobs were reported to have been lost following the adoption of AI. 

This raises concerns about the feminization of job losses in the face of AI advancements. Professor Gina Neff, the executive director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology & Democracy at the University of Cambridge and member of the Women4AI Daring Circle believes the existing gaps in digital skills between men and women globally is one key factor that would influence this discourse. According to her, this is disturbing and more concerted efforts must be taken to remedy the situation. Furthermore, studies from developed nations like the US, emphasize the importance of upskilling and reskilling to mitigate the negative impacts of AI on employment.  

Again, the existing gender disparities in the workforce may exacerbate the impact of AI on women. A 2022 UNESCO study reveals that women are underrepresented in industries at the forefront of AI development, limiting their participation in the sector. As AI increasingly becomes integrated into various sectors, the result of these disparities may be further inequality in opportunities for women in the job market in the future.  

Moreover, biases in AI algorithms can perpetuate gender stereotypes and discrimination as already witnessed and evident by some research. For example, a programme will often translate the English term ‘nurse’ using a female-gendered word, and render ‘doctor’ as a male noun. This bias in AI has the potential to widen the gender gap, and even endanger women’s lives. It can also lead to discrimination in fair decision making. For example, it can influence women not getting jobs or accessing loans for their businesses.  The solution to this can be gender-inclusive policies. 


Traditionally, cultural norms and gender stereotypes have limited women’s access to job opportunities, resulting in a persistent gender gap in employment. In many African societies, gender roles have often dictated that women prioritize domestic responsibilities over pursuing a career. Cultural norms have perpetuated stereotypes that limit women’s participation in the formal workforce, relegating them to lower-paying and less prestigious roles. 

Historically, women in Africa have faced challenges in accessing quality education and vocational training. This has resulted in a skills gap, further restricting their entry into higher-paying and more technologically advanced industries. Hence the job market in Africa has been characterized by occupational segregation, with women often concentrated in sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and informal services, especially low-quality jobs. The high illiteracy level among women in Africa is more glaring in the area of STEM. The resulting situation is the digital divide or gap which is the lack of women in the mentioned fields. This becomes relevant within the discourse of the impact of AI on women’s jobs as only a few women are employed in the STEM sector and the sectors where they are more employed, are easily taken over by AI. 

The integration of AI in various industries has the potential to break down traditional barriers to employment for women. Remote work facilitated by AI technologies can provide flexibility, allowing women to balance work and family responsibilities more effectively. 

AI-driven initiatives in education and training can help bridge the skills gap for women. Online courses, AI-driven learning platforms, and virtual training programmes offer accessible opportunities for skill development, that have the potentials to empower women to enter industries or employment that were erstwhile male-dominated. Although more efforts will be required for hands-on or practical technology education. AI has the potential to disrupt occupational segregation by introducing automation and innovation across various sectors. As routine tasks become automated, opportunities for women to participate in more diverse and technologically advanced roles may increase. 

Generally, although women in Africa have faced systemic challenges in the workforce, the advent of AI presents a transformative opportunity to address these issues. By breaking down traditional barriers, closing the skills gap, and promoting gender-inclusive AI technologies, Africa can foster a more equitable and diverse job market. All these have been noticed in developed countries. However, it is essential for policymakers, businesses, and communities to actively work towards creating an inclusive environment that harnesses the full potential of AI for the benefit of women in the workforce. 


Africa presents a unique context for examining the impact of AI on women’s jobs. The continent is characterized by diverse economies, ranging from resource-rich nations to emerging markets. Many African countries are still grappling with basic infrastructure challenges and other problems which contribute to making the adoption of advanced technologies like AI a complex or additional challenge. 

However, several African nations like Kenya and South Africa are making strides in embracing digital transformation. Initiatives such as the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy aim to harness the potential of technology for economic growth and job creation. The implications of AI on women’s employment in Africa need to be examined within this broader economic context. 

While the economic and technological contexts of developed countries differ from those in Africa, analyzing their experiences can provide valuable insights. Developed countries have taken organized steps and strategies which developing countries can take lessons by adapting to the changing nature of work due to AI. While the use and thus the impact of AI on jobs in Africa may be different from how it is in developed countries, it is still worth researching. Some of the reasons for the difference may be considerable issues of time and development, the practical reality of automation itself and many others which might determine the full use of AI and thus the envisaged impact. 

Although job displacement is a concern, the advent of AI also brings forth opportunities for skill shifts and upskilling. As routine tasks become automated, there is a growing demand for skills related to AI development, maintenance, and oversight. This shift offers women the chance to engage in high-skilled roles within the AI ecosystem. Initiatives promoting STEM education for women are crucial in ensuring they have the necessary skills to thrive in the evolving job market. 

Gender Bias in AI Algorithms is an often-overlooked aspect of the impact of AI on women’s employment. If not properly designed and monitored, AI systems can perpetuate existing gender stereotypes and inequalities. For instance, biased recruitment algorithms may disadvantage women in job application processes. Addressing these biases is crucial to ensuring fair and equitable opportunities for women in the AI-driven job market. 

Another opportunity is remote and flexible work arrangements. For women, these changes can provide greater flexibility in balancing work and family responsibilities. Remote work facilitated by AI technologies has the potential to reduce traditional gender-based barriers and empower women to participate more actively in the labour market. 

Efforts are underway to develop AI systems that are free from gender bias. This is crucial in ensuring fair hiring practices, performance evaluations, and promotions, thereby contributing to a more equitable work environment for women. 

One of the primary factors influencing women’s participation in AI-related fields is access to education and training. In developed countries, considerable efforts have been and are being made to bridge gender gaps in STEM education. However, in many African countries, there are still significant disparities in educational opportunities for women. Addressing these gaps is crucial for ensuring that women in Africa can participate meaningfully in the AI job market. 

Diversity in the AI workforce is essential for creating inclusive and effective technologies. Developed countries have made strides in promoting gender diversity, though challenges persist. In Africa, efforts to build a diverse AI workforce are at an early stage. Governments and businesses must actively work towards creating an environment that encourages women to pursue careers in AI and related fields. 

AI has the potential to drive entrepreneurship and innovation. The UK for example has seen a rise in women-led startups and innovative projects in AI. In Africa, although progress is being made, there is a need for greater support for women entrepreneurs in AI. This includes access to funding, mentorship programs, and a supportive ecosystem that encourages risk-taking and innovation. 

Meanwhile, the relationship between computers and humans is not determined by technological capabilities, but by the priorities and strategies of organizations that own and operate them. Most times, this has to do with development and or rather the society. In developed countries, efforts are being made to retrain workers and ensure a smooth transition. In Africa, where traditional employment is still a significant part of the economy, there is a need for proactive strategies to mitigate potential risks associated with AI. This includes investing in upskilling and reskilling programs tailored to the specific needs of women in the workforce. 

Countries have been developing policies and regulations to address the ethical implications of AI and promote fair employment practices. In Africa, there is a need for robust policy frameworks that not only address ethical concerns but also promote gender equality in the AI sector.  

In essence, it can be argued that the impact of artificial intelligence on women’s employment in developed countries is a complex and multifaceted issue. While concerns about job displacement exist, opportunities for upskilling, gender bias mitigation, and flexible work arrangements also emerge. The projection is that policymakers, employers, and educational institutions must collaborate to ensure that women are equipped with the skills needed for the AI-driven job market and that AI technologies contribute to gender equality rather than exacerbate existing disparities. 

Efforts to address gender disparities in AI-related fields, such as the implementation of diversity and inclusion programmes, can serve as a model for African countries seeking to ensure equitable participation of women in the technology sector. Additionally, proactive measures in education and training can empower women with the skills needed for AI-related jobs. 


Upskilling programmes are necessary and a host of other inclusive strategies like gender mainstreaming, policies etc. Policies would handle most of the underlying concerns about the use of AI. These will include various strategies to address gender disparities in STEM education through targeted outreach programmes, scholarships, and mentorship initiatives to inspire and support young women pursuing STEM careers. Encouraging women to participate in shaping the development of AI technologies can help mitigate biases and ensure equitable outcomes. 

This work would require all hands on deck, a unified work by all stakeholders. Governments should formulate inclusive AI policies that address gender biases and discrimination and work with the private sector, academia, and civil society to develop ethical guidelines for AI development and deployment.  

Governments and organizations should invest in digital skills training programs to empower women with the skills needed for AI-related jobs. These programmes should be accessible to women across different socioeconomic backgrounds, with a focus on providing practical, hands-on training in AI technologies. Bridging the skills gap will enhance women’s employability in the evolving job market. 

The anticipated impact of artificial intelligence on women’s jobs in Africa is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive and proactive approach. AI will have both benefits and disadvantages. The disadvantages are general concerns from its benefits. General assumptions of the global impact of AI on employment include job loss and job displacement. From the assumption of the type of jobs that women are mostly found, as brought about by gender perception, discrimination and disparities, which are more visible in Africa, it is easy to deduce that women will be more affected by job loss and displacement than men. However way it is, women will be affected differently from men.  

While progress is being made, concerted efforts are needed to ensure that women in Africa can fully participate in and benefit from the opportunities presented by the AI revolution. A comprehensive and inclusive approach is essential to unlock the potential of AI for women in Africa and contribute to sustainable and equitable economic development. 

Addressing the gender disparities in STEM education, promoting gender diversity in AI development, fostering inclusive AI policies, and investing in digital skills training are essential components of a strategic response. Policymakers, businesses, and civil society in Africa must collaborate to ensure that women are not left behind in the evolving landscape of AI employment. All these are lessons from developed countries that African countries can assess to navigate the challenges and leverage the opportunities presented by AI

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