Machines are taking our jobs. Researchers at Oxford have analyzed the skill sets required for more than 700 jobs to determine which of them will be most susceptible to automation. They concluded that in the next few decades, over 47% of the jobs we have today will likely be taken over by machines. we can take some comfort in the fact that growth is predicted in ways we cannot likely conceive of today, another side of this story is the disproportionate effect job automation will have on women.
Our workforce continues to be divided along gendered lines. For example, according to the US Census Equal Employment Opportunity Tabulation, 95% of the truck drivers in the US are men and 95% of secretaries and administrative assistants are women. Men hold 97 percent of U.S. construction and carpentry jobs, and women hold 93 percent of the registered nurse positions. While traditional male job categories like transportation are expected to take a hit, sectors that employ the most women, such as customer service, office support, sales and administration, are expected to be hit harder.
Women are also expected to be disproportionately affected by the job growth in more male dominant sectors. Growth is expected in the STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as in fields such as architecture. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, women hold just 11% of worldwide jobs in architecture and engineering and just 23% of jobs in computing and mathematics. According to the World Economic Forum, “women stand to gain only one new STEM job for every 20 lost across other job families, whereas the ratio for men is one new job for every four lost elsewhere.”
The efforts to support and encourage women in tech are critical to address both the current and potential future trends. Technology itself will otherwise undermine the number of jobs women hold in the STEM fields. It is not enough to suggest merit will take care of the problem – the historical problem is much deeper and sophisticated than mere hiring quotas. Creating communities and workplaces where women feel they genuinely belong and are able to contribute meaningfully will help keep women in tech once they get there.
Examples such as the Women in Tech meetup at WPC in July are opportunities to send your women employees to important career and company growth initiatives. I’ll be there, and look forward to connecting with women entrepreneurs and tech experts.