The 알바사이트 report outlines three areas for action that would benefit women as well as men, encourage womens participation in labor, and address both horizontal and vertical segregation. Addressing these would also require meaningful investment to keep women in the labor force, via accessible childcare, a system that encourages both parents to take time off work to care for children, and changes that safeguard flexible working. Clearly, ensuring the future of work delivers for women requires not just more precise knowledge about the quantifiable need for jobs than the current statistical systems allow, but a concerted effort to understand the gendered barriers to full economic participation.
Until we change social norms that prevent women from realizing their economic potential–including norms related to the role women play in performing unpaid carework, as well as norms that enable gender-based violence and harassment–womens increased participation in the workforce will not result in real economic empowerment, and the right to equal rights and access to opportunities for realizing this potential. Ultimately, the degree to which women–and men–can capitalize on that growth through desired, high-quality jobs will depend on choices made by policymakers, employers, and society. This implies that the gendered effects of technological change in the labour market will mainly be determined by the interplay between changing demands for specific jobs and skills with evolving norms and policies regarding womens and mens roles at work and at home.
Even if women stay in their current jobs, it is likely that their way of working will shift as the workplace adopts more new technologies, and as certain components of activities in womens professions are automated, creating a partial automatization of their labor.
Because women have greater difficulties in obtaining managerial positions, they are also less likely to be able to develop skills that would enable them to adapt to upcoming changes. Women already possess job skills that will put them in positions of higher growth for the future, yet are overrepresented in industries most susceptible to automation. This imbalance leaves women even more vulnerable, as many of the jobs with the best pay and lowest replacement potential from automation are in STEM fields.
Looking at the U.S. labor force overall, we found that women make up 54% of workers employed in high-risk professions, even though they make up less than half the overall workforce. The large numbers of women in the workforce mask the fact that the labor force participation rates for many groups of women are still lower than those for men.
Even in cases where the gender gap in participation rates is small, women typically have lower earnings than men, and are more likely to work in nonprotected jobs, such as homemaking. Black women, in particular, historically had far higher rates of participation in the workforce compared to white women, yet Black women also experienced far greater disruptions in employment as a result of inadequate childcare.23 Black women and immigrant women have frequently provided the household labor that facilitates the employment and leisure activities of wealthy, middle-class White women, yet inhibits them from spending more time with their families. In many countries, higher shares of women are employed in informal economies (e.g., domestic workers, street vendors) than men, contributing to this gender gap.
Even in advanced economies where womens labor force participation is higher, gender differences persist across occupations and sectors, suggesting deep-seated societal and cultural norms affect where women (and men) work. In particular, the nature and spatial distribution of economic growth and job creation contribute to determining whether women are able to access jobs, especially in contexts in which societal norms determine how and where women are allowed to work. In particular, whether women are employed can be driven, on one hand, by poverty (as is clear in low-income countries) and, on the other, by the increased education and employment opportunities available to women in a more modern economy.
Horizontal segregation, which describes the fact that women are studying certain fields at higher rates than their male counterparts, and vertical segregation, or the difficulties that women have securing positions of power, would leave women vulnerable relative to men in the face of impending changes. What the Future of Work Will Mean for Women Women and men are facing a similar range of potential job losses and gains, but in different areas.
Despite rising demands on their caregiving, women are likely to face greater, different challenges to their jobs in the future. Even though women are most heavily involved in lower-skilled jobs, those that are more susceptible to automation, it is also the case that in the future, caring services will be an important employment option. The alternative is that, as the changing labor force grows, leveraging new technology solutions, barriers to entry will rise for women.
Access to and training for new technologies has potential to retain, expand, and enhance employment opportunities for women in fields traditionally dominated by women. If used appropriately, new technologies could potentially create new industries, occupations, and jobs. New and emerging technologies–including AI, robotics, and big data–are playing a growing role in shaping jobs in the future, shifting jobs across industries, changing the types of tasks performed by existing jobs, and changing the way people access jobs.
The automation era, and the looming AI (artificial intelligence) technologies, are offering new opportunities in jobs and pathways for economic advancement, but women are facing new challenges layered onto the ones they have had for some time. Jobs in women-dominated occupations like child care (94% women), personal care assistance (84% women), and nursing assistants (91% women) are poised to grow, too.