A Closer Look

Automation in US – The differing impact on men and women’s work

Advances in automation and digital technologies are undoubtedly changing the nature of work. Technology creates jobs, often in unpredictable ways, but it also displaces jobs. Some of the routine tasks that make up jobs can now be automated, making some occupations obsolete and displacing workers. Workers affected by technological change can find work in alternative occupations, but research on displaced workers suggests persistent effects: they typically earn less and have worse health, including higher mortality.

While uncertainty remains about whether automation will lead to large employment effects, any effects are likely to impact men and women differently. The labor market remains deeply stratified by gender. For example, 95% of secretaries and administrative assistants were women in 2014-2016, while 97% of construction workers were men. Researchers at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality argue that nearly 25% of women in female-dominated occupations would need to exchange places with men in male-dominated jobs to end all the occupational segregation by gender.

Occupational segregation, therefore, potentially places men and women at different risks of job displacement from automation. Few studies consider job displacement risks by gender, much of the focus has been on the typically male-dominated manufacturing sector. By some estimates, however, women face a higher risk of having their jobs displaced by automation. Other estimates show that men are more vulnerable to potential future automation. Nevertheless, recognition of the gendered structure of the labor market suggests the need for gender-sensitive policies to help workers navigate labor market disruptions caused by automation.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The differing impact of automation on men and women’s work

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