Automation Might Impact 180 Million Women’s Jobs — & More From LinkedIn’s 2019 Predictions Report

It’s no surprise that technology has transformed the modern workplace.

A shift to digital platforms, the growing use of robotics and social acceptance of artificial intelligence have already contributed to a new era in today’s corporate culture, which is increasingly abandoning low- and middle-skilled routine jobs.

And in a recent study from the International Monetary Fund shared via LinkedIn’s 2019 predictions report, automation might disproportionately affect women, compared with their male counterparts — that is, 11 percent of the female workforce versus men’s 9 percent.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based organization, an estimated 26 million women’s jobs in 30 countries are at a high risk of displacement in the next 20 years due to technology. With these positions facing a 70 percent or higher probability of automation, the researchers added that the overall impact translates to 180 million women’s jobs across the world.

“More than ever, women will need to break the glass ceiling,” wrote authors Era Dabla-Norris and Kalpana Kochhar. “Even after taking into account such factors as differences in skill, experience and choice of occupation, nearly 5 percent of the wage gap between women and men is because women perform more routine job tasks. In the U.S., this means women forfeit $26,000 in income over the course of their working life.”

Women who are 40 years of age and older and work in clerical, service and sales positions are in greater danger of losing their jobs to automation, as well as 50 percent of working women with a high school education or less.

Women are also underrepresented in sectors that consistently report job growth, including engineering and information. In tech, for instance, they are 15 percent less likely than men to take on managerial and professional roles, with 19 percent of women more inclined to perform routine tasks that can lead to their displacement.

However, silver linings abound: Both advanced and emerging economies that experience rapid aging are witnessing job growth in traditionally female-dominated industries such as health and social services. These positions — which require cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal skills — are less prone to automation.

“Governments need to enact policies that foster gender equality and empowerment in the changing landscape of work,” the authors added, suggesting that they narrow gender gaps in leadership positions, ease the transition for workers and invest in women in scientific fields. “Automation has made it even more urgent to step up efforts to level the playing field between men and women so that all have equal opportunities to contribute to, and benefit from, the new, more technology-enabled world.”

Another major finding in LinkedIn’s report includes the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence. The networking platform asked 200 LinkedIn Top Voices to forecast trends for the next year, with 1 in 4 attesting to the application of AI in all industries and jobs.

“While 2018 was the year of AI hype, it feels like we’re at an inflection point where these technologies are being incorporated into more of the tools we use every day,” said Sharon O’Dea, co-founder of communications consultancy Lithos Partners. “It’s when technology trends start to become invisible that they really make a major impact.”

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