- As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) both replace and create jobs, between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition from their current positions to ones requiring higher-level skills — or else face larger wage gaps and lower chances of career advancement, according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).
- According to MGI, women are more likely to hold jobs that could be at least partially automated. The report showed that in mature economies, women made up 15% on average of machine operators, but accounted for more than 70% of clerical support workers. In emerging economies, women accounted for slightly more (22%) of machine operators but also more than 40% of clerical support workers. While the data showed that women made up more than 70% of workers in social assistance and healthcare in most of the 10 countries analyzed (except for India), they made up less than 15% of construction workers, and only about 30% of manufacturing workers, on average.
- MGI recommended that stakeholders take three actions: 1) invest in training programs that can help develop future in-demand skills; 2) enable women to balance paid and unpaid work and boost their mobility; and 3) increase women's access to technology as well as tech jobs and leadership roles.
The report highlights the fact that women in the labor force hold clerical, administrative, social services, healthcare and retail jobs in greater numbers than men. Clerical and administrative jobs, which are practically synonymous with women's work, may be easier targets for full or partial automation.
MGI also noted that women remain underrepresented in higher paying, skilled jobs in normally fast-growing sectors, such as construction and technology. In addition, women frequently start their careers at lower wages than men, recent research showed. The gender-based wage disparity is rooted, in part, in both the jobs women hold and the resulting wages they're paid.
As organizations realize the need to invest in training and upskilling workers to prepare for the future of work, women must be included in their plans. Not only are women's jobs more likely to be at stake, per the report, but denying women opportunities for growth and development might also lead to women dropping out of the workforce entirely. And with the increasing demand for high-skill occupations, employers may need to look to training and upskilling options to prepare talent — regardless of who that talent is — to close such gaps.