The world is witnessing a new landscape of work. The inventions of new technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way work gets done. With the advancements of machine-learning techniques, more and more tasks are automated and handled by the algorithms. As consequence, the increasing existence of technology in the workplace is projected to bring threats to the future of jobs. Some jobs, however, are more vulnerable than others to risk of displacement by technology.
The changing nature of work also has some gender implications. In its report entitled Gender, Technology and the Future Work published on Monday (Oct 8), The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that 26 million female jobs in 30 countries (28 OECD member countries, Cyprus, and Singapore) are at a high risk of being displaced by technology. Over 70 percent jobs for women are likely to be automated within the next two decades, said IMF.
The research findings suggested that female workers face a higher risk of automation (11 percent) compared to male workers (9 percent), albeit with significant heterogeneity across sectors and countries. Less well-educated, older female workers aged 40 and older, as well as those in low-skill clerical, service, and sales positions are disproportionately exposed to automation. IMF warned that about 180 million female jobs are at high risk of being displaced globally.
IMF also urged global leaders across countries to foster gender equality and gender empowerment amidst the changing landscape of work. As women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), leaders need to endow women with requisite skills by investing and mentoring women in these skills to breakdown gender stereotypes and increase retention. The organisation also suggested leaders to close gender gap in leadership positions, bridge the digital divide and ease transition for workers.
“Women appear less endowed with some of the skills needed to thrive in the digital era: they are currently underrepresented in sectors anticipating jobs growth, such as engineering and ICT,” IMF said.
At the same time, it noted that there are some bright spots as well. “Jobs are likely to grow in traditionally female-dominated sectors such as health, education, and social services―jobs requiring cognitive and interpersonal skills and thus less prone to automation.”
However, added IMF, across sectors and occupations, underrepresentation of women in professional and managerial positions still makes them at greater risk for displacement.