Women outnumber men in the workplace

Author Casaldra Andreassen Read bio
Tags: Women Innovation Network
Date: January 11, 2021

As we enter the automatization era, gender inequality at work is still higher than gender inequality in society.

In this brief note, IPG explores prospects for women at work in the USA, drawing on new global research in an ongoing exploration of the future of work as automation and technologies diffuse.

This work complements the “power of parity” that has, over the past few years, traversed trends in gender inequality at work and in societies around the world, hoping to narrow the gender gap.

Advancing women’s equality could boost GDP

Business studies from 2015 have found that every country could save and add amongst $12 trillion to GDP by 2025, “only” by advancing women’s equality.

This pattern was based on a scenario in which all countries progressed towards gender parity and made the most progress toward this goal The focus is on economic gains from advancing women’s equality.

At a time when the world economy faces a great deal of uncertainty and when productivity growth has been disappointing, this kind of prize is well worth pursuing.

Additional job demand for women

It has been noted by the same studies that the women of the future could experience slightly less job displacement by automation, but on the other hand, they reach similar potential as men, for additional job demand.

The main scenario expected to happen until the year 2030 is based on “midpoint” automation adoption. By this, we assume that automation occurs on a similar scale to the other major technological disruptions in the past, and job creation becomes driven by factors like:

  • economic growth,
  • investment,
  • demographic changes,
  • technological innovation

The midpoint scenario illustrates a rather predictive but for understanding easier automation development across many sectors and occupations for men and women.

A young business woman at work

Challenging new occupations will be created

Fluctuations of technological innovation will displace or completely change the nature of many jobs, but they will also create new ones, suggesting that a large percentage of the employee population could be working in entirely new professions by 2030, and women may find them more challenging than men to fill these jobs.

In the situation of potential jobs displaced, women’s jobs are most likely to be displaced in retail, healthcare, administration, and government jobs, while the top three sectors where men are to be seen are manufacturing, retail, and construction.

Women tend to be strongly represented as sales and retail assistants or administrative occupations. They also tend to dominate certain care-centric occupations that are less susceptible to automation (care workers, nurses, and childminders).

Women are historically suitable in these occupations because of the use of social and emotional skills in face-to-face interactions and machines are less likely to replicate and replace them.

However, some of these jobs (like care workers, nursing assistants, etc)  yield lower pay- another aspect that impacts the economic viability of automation. In contrast to this, certain professional and technical occupations (where men dominate) are relatively high pay (programmers, software developers, etc).

The transition between occupations – higher-skilled roles

Women will need to be skilled, flexible, mobile, and tech-savvy to overcome challenges.

Women are seen to be developing the skills and qualifications important for becoming more successful at work. They already appreciate the importance of support and mentoring to develop their leadership skills.

However, a small percentage of working women know that their current role allows them to use their skills, knowledge, and abilities. Despite the recognition for the development and maintenance of relevant skills, only two in five working women feel that they could access free or affordable training and boost their careers.

Men and women both need to be more skilled, mobile, and tech-acquainted in the new age, but it’s a fact that women face pervasive barriers on all three which makes navigating transitions particularly hard.

Work and home

Four of every ten working women have (at least) one child and/or expect to have more children in the future. Accessing care for minors is very important for them, as well as being able to succeed at work, and having a partner who shares both childcare and domestic work.

Looking to the future, women are aiming to undertake further education, change jobs, and achieve greater flexibility at work. Having the right skills and qualifications, access to job flexibility, receiving paid leave to take care of family, and receiving support and mentoring to develop leadership skills were seen by women as the most important factors to facilitate career progression.