‘Liability’: Moms Face Built-in Bias from AI Resume-Screeners, Study Finds

‘Liability’: Moms Face Built-in Bias from AI Resume-Screeners, Study Finds

Mothers face yet another hurdle as they try to re-enter the workforce after maternity leave: Artificial intelligence.

A study conducted by researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering found that AI programs that were used to screen resumes exhibited what appears to be bias against women who stopped working to care for their children.

The AI programs went so far as to label maternity-leave information on a resume as “a liability,” researchers said in an NYU news release.

The NYU study was submitted presented Dec. 15 during a workshop at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems in New Orleans.

The researchers analyzed three “large language model” advanced AI programs: ChatGPT, Anthropic’s Claude and Google’s Bard.

These AI programs are used by Fortune 500 companies to screen resumes and match potential applicants with open positions, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

The researchers found that as information such as maternity leave and breaks taken from work for the sake of child care were added to the resumes, that information had a significant effect on how the resumes were read by the AI screening programs.

The programs were found to be biased against resumes mentioning maternity — or paternity — leave as the reason for a gap in work experience.

“This research suggests those gaps can wrongly weed out otherwise qualified candidates when employers rely on [large language models] to filter applicants,” lead researcher Siddharth Garg said, according to the news release.

When the researchers asked the AI programs what the reasoning was behind the negative bias shown to resumes with maternity-related work gaps, according to the news release, the response was, “Including personal information about maternity leave is not relevant to the job and could be seen as a liability.”

This type of selection process could leave countless qualified women facing closed doors at many companies merely because they stepped away from work to care for their children.

An annual survey of American mothers this year by the website Motherly found that 24 percent now identify as “stay-at-home.”

That is a sharp increase from 2022, when that number was 15 percent.

The survey found the primary reason mothers decided to stay at home was to spend more time with their children.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the nearly 10,000 mothers surveyed said they would need a flexible work schedule to return to work.

These numbers and the findings from the AI study present a serious gap between the needs and wishes of an interested labor force and the inability for those voices to even be heard thanks to artificial intelligence silencing them during the hiring process.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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