By Madeline Hislop
Automation and artificial intelligence technologies may impact between 40-160 million women’s jobs globally by 2030. It is expected women will need to transition into new, often higher-skilled occupations, as their old jobs are replaced by new technologies.
A new report, The Future of Women at Work, released by the McKinsey Global Institute, suggests women need to be re-skilled, mobile and tech-savvy if they are to ease their way into the changing jobs of the future.
The research projected 171 million new women-dominated jobs will be created by 2030 and women are particularly likely to dominate the healthcare sector. Clerical and retail sales positions, commonly occupied by women, are among the jobs viewed as most vulnerable.
The McKinsey Global Institute suggests the future of work for women could go one of two ways. If women are able to take advantage of transition opportunities into more highly skilled jobs, they could maintain and even improve their current share of employment. If they cannot, due to long-established structural and societal barriers, gender inequality is likely to worsen in the age of automation.
Men are predicted to face similar occupational disruption as the age of automation edges closer, however, they are more likely to experience advantages in preparing for and dealing with the changing workforce.
Higher educational attainment and new skills are essential for women to make successful transitions, the research suggests. In mature economies, most women (and men) are likely to have to transition into occupations that will require higher educational requirements. This has the potential for driving stronger growth in demand for higher-paid jobs.
If women can meet the demands of higher-skilled jobs, a future of more productive and lucrative employment is possible.
If the necessary transitions are not achieved by women, it is likely we will see an increasing wage gap.
What is clear, is the workforce in the age of automation will not work well for women, unless we take intentional steps to ensure they have the skills necessary to meet the demands of higher skilled jobs.