How will Women Join the Age of Automation?

As technological and automation industries continue to grow; they offer new economic opportunities and jobs

The argument for supporting women to raise their skills in order to thrive in the labour markets of the future is compelling. Employers should pay particular attention to the needs of women who face new pressures from automation, on top of the perennial difficulties they already face in the world of work. Researcher, predicts as many as 200 million may need to change jobs women join the age of automation – nearly one-quarter of all women employed today.

The challenge is not so much who gets hit hardest as women join the age of automation – the impact is roughly the same order of magnitude for women and men – but how well individuals are prepared to adapt. This is where women need targeted support.

If women can make the necessary transitions, they could be on a path to more productive, higher-paid work. If the opportunity is not available to them, the gender pay gap may widen, and many women may even leave the labour force as demand for lower-skilled jobs declines. There has been progress, but it has been slow. Companies are promoting diversity but on the current trajectory it will take more than 20 years to reach parity in executive positions, according to the survey database. This progress could be derailed if women are not helped to make the transitions they need in the face of automation.

More than ever, men and women need to develop the skills that will be in demand, the mobility needed to negotiate labour-market transitions, and the access to, and knowledge of, the technology required to work with automated systems. Today, women face relative challenges across all three areas. We are arguing for tailored support from companies, supported by government policy, to enable women to overcome these barriers.

Let’s look at the key points of how will women join the age of automation:

1. Different and Higher Skills:

The key arbiter of success or failure in making these transitions will be different and higher skills. 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. Report, in 2018 found that demand for basic cognitive, physical and manual skills will decline, but that jobs could require up to 55% more time using technical skills and 24% more hours using social and emotional skills by 2030. These substantial shifts in labour demand will require many women to make radical changes to their working lives.

Although the gender gap in education is narrowing, fewer women are graduating in fields that will grow and be vital for future employment. According to report, only 37% of first-year full-time female students study science subjects, compared to 48% of men.

The private sector should invest more in reskilling employees, or partner with academic and other institutions. One study found that in 2018, 54% of employers were providing additional training and development opportunities to their existing workforce to fill skills gaps, compared with only 20% in 2014 – that share needs to rise further. Public and private investment in digital learning platforms would open up another avenue for women. To initiative recruits and trains women in non-technical positions for software engineering roles, offering 12-month apprenticeships and mentoring schemes.

2. The Opportunity to be Mobile and Move from One Job to another:

Women are less mobile than men because they disproportionately undertake unpaid care work in the home, compromising their scope for training and paid employment. Technology could give women new flexibility to work remotely – in the gig economy or in e-commerce – but companies need to expand the range of flexible working options. One 2018 survey of employers found that flexible or remote working options were only offered by 23% of employers. More access to professional networks would help women bolster their chances of moving into higher-paid occupations.

3. Access to Technology and being Tech-Savvy Enough to Use it :

Technology could be the breakthrough that women need, enabling them to work more flexibly in the gig economy. Yet women lag behind men in access to tech, skills and leadership. 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 ICT systems, compared with 5.5% of male workers, according to the OECD. Companies have a role to play, working with educational institutions to develop a broader pipeline of women going into tech fields.

Armed with knowledge of the transition’s women will need to make, now is the time to step up efforts and help women overcome new challenges and old.

Gendered Clusters:

Across both developed and emerging economies, men and women are distributed unevenly across sectors. In many countries, women account for 70 percent of healthcare workers and social assistants but less than 25 percent of machine operators and craftspeople.

Factoring in these gendered industry clusters and economic growth, women seem set to gain 20 percent more jobs by 2030 as opposed to men’s 19 percent. Twenty-five percent of women’s jobs gained are predicted to be in healthcare. Furthermore, women’s jobs are less at risk of being fully displaced by technology and will more likely be prone to partial automation.

New Roles:

Emerging technologies can create entirely new jobs, as seen with the recent boom in roles in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the U.S., though, approximately 60 percent of these new roles have been in male-dominated fields. 

In mature economies, many of these new roles will require a college or advanced degree, meaning both women and men will have to refresh their skills. This can be more difficult for women though, given they spend more time on unpaid labour and have less access to infrastructure and digital technology.

The report recommends for policymakers and employers to step up transitional support as women join the age of automation. Some of these tactics could include providing access to child care and increased support for women in STEM fields and entrepreneurship.

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *