The gen AI gender gap

BIS Working Papers  |  No 1197  | 
11 July 2024



Generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) holds the potential to boost economic activity. Evidence suggests it makes workers more productive, especially in occupations that require advanced cognitive abilities, and spurs firm growth and innovation. Gen AI is thereby poised to have profound effects on aggregate output and wages. If unequally adopted across demographic groups, however, gen AI could exacerbate existing differences in pay and job opportunities. Increasing AI adoption would then lead to greater inequality, a key policy concern.


We assess gender differences in the use of gen AI and their drivers, based on a representative survey of US consumers. Our analysis draws on special questions that were added to the New York Fed's Survey of Consumer Expectations. The survey asked detailed questions about the use of gen AI tools, opportunities and risks respondents see in gen AI, their concerns regarding trust and privacy, and their understanding of the technology. We document stark differences in attitudes across groups, which could influence their use of gen AI and participation in the digital economy.


The survey results show the presence of an economically and statistically significant "gen AI gender gap". On average, 50% of men report having used gen AI over the previous 12 months, compared with 37% of women. Demographic characteristics such as income, education, age or race do not explain this gap. Differences in attitudes between genders towards privacy and trust in counterparties, as well as perceived opportunities and risks from gen AI for employment, explain part of the chasm. Respondents' knowledge about gen AI emerges as the most important driver, explaining almost three quarters of the gen AI gender gap.


Generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) is expected to increase productivity. But if unequally adopted across demographic groups, its proliferation risks exacerbating disparities in pay and job opportunities, leading to greater inequality. To investigate the use of gen AI and its drivers we draw on a representative survey of U.S. household heads from the Survey of Consumer Expectations. We find a significant "gen AI gender gap": while 50% of men already use gen AI, only 37% of women do. Demographic characteristics explain only a small share of this gap, while respondents' self-assessed knowledge about gen AI emerges as the most important factor, explaining three-quarters of the gap. Gender differences in privacy concerns and trust when using gen AI tools, as well as perceived economic risks and benefits, account for the remainder. We conclude by discussing implications for policy to foster equitable gen AI adoption.

JEL Classification: C8, D8

Keywords: artificial intelligence, privacy, gender, gen AI