If Automation Takes Over, Women Stand to Lose the Most

By: Lauren Mineau

Women are the most at risk of career peril if automation eliminates some job roles as researchers anticipate, according to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

If technology develops as anticipated, tractor-trailers will drive themselves with AI and supermarkets will have robot cashiers. Most reports say that low-wage work is at the most risk for being lost to automation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the total number of jobs will increase by 7% between 2016 and 2026, but at the same time, 1.4% of jobs that currently exist will become redundant and be eliminated.

A new report dives even deeper and finds that automation may have a greater impact on female American workers.

The report, "Women, Automation and the Future of Work," details the U.S. labor market and notes that women are often over-represented in roles at risk of disruption by automation. Roles like secretary, administrative assistant, information clerk and data entry jobs fall under this category. Women make up half the labor force, but more than half of the workers at risk of job loss due to automation — 58%. Among those, Hispanic women could be affected the most, due to the professions where they are concentrated.

The overall number of women in tech jobs has increased, yet the number of men has increased at a faster rate. Meanwhile, the amount of women working as computer scientists, systems analysts, software developers and computer support specialists has declined since 2000. Those jobs are the three largest tech jobs and the most likely to help shape the future, the report said.

“Programs to increase the number of women in these jobs are popular and must expand further to give women a better chance to participate in STEM jobs that determine the future of automation and AI,” the report stated.

This article originally appeared on Engineering360.