Women are going to lose out the most when robots take over the world.
Yes — you read that correctly.
The World Economic Forum warned in a startling new “The Future of Jobs” report, ahead of its highly-anticipated annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week, that when robots, artificial intelligence, and automation push 7.1 million people out of a job through redundancy, automation or disintermediation, women are going to bear the brunt of unemployment.
WEF blames two things for this.
Firstly, it says that most of the job losses to technology are in female-dominant roles, such as administration.
Secondly, WEF says that while the creation of 2.1 million new jobs will partially offset some of the job losses, the fact that most of these roles will be in specialised areas such as computing, maths, architecture, and engineering and that women have “low participation in high growth skills” then the new positions are less likely to be filled by females.
STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematical) professions are one of the fastest-growing areas of job creation but this is where women lose out. It estimated that women stand to gain only one new STEM job for every four men gain.
“There is a unique opportunity at present to address long-existing gender divides in the economy. If we don’t take advantage of this, we will see more gender segregation in the workforce, affecting wages and livelihoods, not to mention greater economic inequality in society as a whole”, said Saadia Zahidi, Head of the Global Challenge on Gender Parity at the World Economic Forum in the report.
WEF’s report coincides with the annual Davos meeting this week which has a theme of “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” It estimates that the transformation of the labour markets will lead to a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020.
These countries include Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the United States.
The survey involved analysing the responses from 350 of the largest companies in the world, including over 150 of the Fortune Global 500. WEF said that in addition to the individual company responses, it had over 1,300 detailed occupation-level data points on mass employment, specialist, and newly emerging occupations based in specific geographic locations across these companies’ global operations.