A growing gap: Why women could be left behind in the age of automation

women automation

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.

This piece was first published on Women’s Agenda. Read the original article.

NOW READ: “Look a little harder”: Aussie founder calls on men to end gendered mentoring and close the women-in-leadership gap

NOW READ: Natural leaders: Why more women should become the boss


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3 years ago

The reality that automation is designed to reduce the need for human interaction (and so jobs) appears to have been largely overlooked by most futurists and whilst there will be any number of new occupations that get created in the future, I do not subscribe to the view that everyone, regardless of sex, will obtain gainful employment. I’d suggest there will be much larger instances of under-employment. Higher educational requirements will not necessarily get someone a job or even full-time employment. Right now, those that have trade background and obtained an apprenticeship could end up earning more over a lifetime of work than many with a fancy degree.

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