A new game-changer has arrived in the form of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
According to research, ten countries, six mature economies and four emerging economies. Have found that if automation for women proceeds on a similar scale to major technological disruptions of the past—such as the shift from agricultural production into industry—20% of women employed today could see their job displaced by automation by 2030, compared with 21% of men.
Even as jobs are lost in some occupations and sectors, there will be new jobs created in others, reflecting rising demand and incomes, and higher productivity associated with the use of automation and AI. It is estimate that 20% more women could be employed by 2030 than are today—versus 19% more men—so long as women are able to maintain their current representation within each sector and occupation. That last assumption may not hold up – in fact we hope that women can do better than maintain their current position. Today, occupations and sectors are sharply divided along gender lines; women are less likely to pursue careers in engineering, and men are reluctant to be nurses because of gender stereotyping, for instance. While progress toward equal gender representation across professions would be welcome, by assuming the current divisions we are able to examine how job displacement could differ by gender.
It is also examined potential jobs created as the result of rising incomes, consumption and investment, partly fueled by productivity growth enabled by technological progress. Then applied a gender lens to identify the differential impact of these trends on men and women.
In the age of automation for women and men, need more than ever to have the right skills, to be mobile and adaptable, and to be tech-savvy. Due to the barriers, they face, women lag behind men on all three.
Skills are key to unlocking opportunities for working women. In five of the six mature economies studied, we expect net demand for labour to be positive only for jobs requiring a college or advanced degree. However, there is some concern that women are not graduating in fields where skills will be in high demand. According to statistics, for instance, show that only 37% of first-year full-time female students studied science subjects, compared with 48% of men. In emerging economies, many women work in subsistence agriculture—in India, more than 60% of employed women—and have little education and narrow skills; they will find it hard to find employment elsewhere without a step up in both. In three of the four emerging economies studied, net labour demand for occupations requiring secondary education could rise strongly.
To address these needs, schools, colleges, governments, and the private sector need to encourage girls and women to study and pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; often they need to work in partnership. Once in work, women (and men) need constantly to refresh their skills, and here their employers need to do more. One study found that in 2018, 54% of employers were providing additional training and development opportunities to their existing workforce in order to fill skills gaps, compared with only 20% in 2014, but that share needs to rise. Public and private investment in digital learning platforms would open up another avenue for women. Governments can weigh in by providing women with subsidies for undertaking training.
Women may find it harder to switch occupations than men. They are often less mobile than men because, more than men, they have to juggle work and family, which may limit the time they have to reskill and could also impact how far they can travel for employment. Technology can give them new flexibility—working from home, engaging in e-commerce instead of bricks-and-mortar businesses, for instance—but companies still need to expand the range of flexible working options. One 2018 survey of employers found that only 23% of employers were offering flexible or remote working options. Women also tend to have smaller networks than men, which could impact their ability to become aware of, and capitalize on, new employment opportunities. Given the need for millions of females to change occupations in the face of automation for women, today’s highly gendered labor market—and the gender stereotyping of occupations behind it—is a genuine barrier. One recent U.S. study showed that women’s sectoral and occupational choices accounted for more than 50% of the gender pay gap. Consider two occupations where employment is likely to expand: computer science and nursing Unless such barriers are addressed, it will be hard for women – and men – to cross gender lines into different occupations.
Technology can break down many of the barrier’s automation for women, opening up new economic opportunities, helping them to participate in the workforce, and, in the automation age, enabling the navigation of transitions. For example, women are now employed independently in what is popularly known as the gig economy, taking advantage of technology that enables new and more flexible ways of working. However, women lag behind in access to tech, the skills to use it, and participating in its creation. Globally, men are 33% more likely than women to have access to the internet, and women only account for 35% of STEM students in higher education. Fewer than 20% of tech workers are female in many mature economies. Only 1.4% of female workers have jobs developing, maintaining, or operating information and computer technology (ICT) systems, compared with 5.5% of male workers, according to the OECD. Again, companies have a role to play, for instance partnering with non-profit and colleges to develop a broader pipeline of women going into tech fields and offering internships. The venture capital industry needs to shift if potential women entrepreneurs—including tech entrepreneurs—are to access the capital they need.