That new technologies pose a threat to traditional jobs is nothing new. It is something that, to a greater or lesser extent, has always happened; and that with the automation and digitalization of society is accelerating. Years ago that countless studies try to anticipate the future of work, or the work of the future. But these investigations rarely addressed a gender perspective. This is what a recently published work by the IMF does, which also yields an interesting result: mechanization affects proportionately more women than men. And, therefore, their jobs are in danger more than theirs.
The argument is clear: women tend to have more routine occupations, regardless of sector and work. And it is precisely these tasks that are most threatened by new technologies. It is a topic that he spoke about last week, before traveling to the annual meeting in Bali, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. Since women are the hardest hit by technification, said Lagarde, "Governments must take greater responsibility for the human cost of tensions, whether they stem from technology, trade or economic reform."
11% of female jobs threatened
The novelty is that now the work that has given rise to these reflections is published. And, according to the text signed by six IMF economists, all of them women, they estimate that in 30 countries – the 28 of the OECD and Cyprus and Singapore – there are some 26 million women whose jobs will be threatened by technology during the next two decades (are those that are considered to have a greater than 70% probability of being automated). Extrapolating these data, the authors reach the conclusion that around the world will be 180 million.
And how much more exposed are they to the inclemencies of new technologies with respect to men? The four researchers estimate that 11% of the workers run the risk of losing their jobs through the machines, while in the case of them it is 9%.
"However," the authors warn, "as there are more men working than women, this is reflected in the fact that the absolute number of men who are endangered by automation is slightly greater than that of women." In addition, the dangers are not the same for everyone: the risk is greater when they have less training they have and they are older. The danger mainly affects women who work in low-skilled positions in points of sale, offices or services.
The six researchers remember that women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, "sectors in which technological change can be complementary to human skills" and, therefore, will be increasingly demanded in the market. They also point out that in others where there is usually female overrepresentation -education, health …- they are going to offer possibilities because of their potential to keep growing.
"We believe that digital transformation will bring more flexibility in the workplace, which will benefit women. But breaking the glass ceiling will be crucial. The under-representation of women in professional and management positions puts them at risk of being displaced by technology, "the experts conclude.