Automation Takes Women’s Jobs

Women may lose out more than their male counterparts as automation transforms the workforce, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Women make up half of the labor force yet they are 58% of the workers “at the highest risk” of losing out to automation — mostly because they are disproportionately represented in jobs more likely to be replaced with artificial intelligence, such as administrative assistants, secretaries and receptionists.

While women make up only half of the labor force, researchers found that they make up 58 percent of the workers at the highest risk of automation.

If the automation revolution is as bad as some researchers believe, almost half of all occupations in the U.S. are at risk of replacement by 2026. Truck drivers will be swapped out for self-driving AI. Manufacturers will use smarter machines instead of hands. Supermarkets will go cashier-free. Even more conservative projections acknowledge that some kind of transition is coming: The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the overall number of jobs of the future will grow, but that 1.4 million current ones could soon become “redundant.”

What is Automation?

Automation is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimum human assistance. Automation [or automatic control is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention. Some processes have been completely automated.

Automation covers applications ranging from a household thermostat controlling a boiler, to a large industrial control system with tens of thousands of input measurements and output control signals. In control complexity it can range from simple on-off control to multi-variable high level algorithms.

Automation is the creation of technology and its application in order to control and monitor the production and delivery of various goods and services. It performs tasks that were previously performed by humans. Automation is being used in a number of areas such as manufacturing, transport, utilities, defense, facilities, operations and lately, information technology.

In the U.S. labor market, women are overrepresented in other high-risk occupations that involve routine data work easily disrupted by AI, like secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and information clerks. They’re also overrepresented in jobs like child care, elder care, and education—ones that are comparatively “safe” from automation, but that may have lower salaries and few benefits.

While women make up only half of the labor force, researchers found that they make up 58 percent of the workers at the highest risk of automation. Among them, it’s Hispanic women who could be most affected, due to the professions where they’re most highly concentrated. Meanwhile, the share of women working as computer scientists and systems analysts, software developers, and computer support specialists has declined since 2000, leaving the task of shaping the proverbial Future of Work mostly to men.

The robots are coming, artificial intelligence is expanding, yet no one is doing enough to make sure workers benefit rather than losing out. According to the new survey, a quarter of the workforce think their job won’t be needed in future. Many of us expect the technological revolution to be as disruptive as the industrial revolution. This could bring amazing opportunities and emancipation, but also new forms of exploitation, deeper inequalities, injustices and anger.

The reason is that new technologies of the period have enabled people to be very productive while working part-time. Businesses do not need large numbers of employees, so individuals can devote most of their waking hours to hobbies, volunteering, and community service. In conjunction with periodic work stints, they have time to pursue new skills and personal identities that are independent of their jobs.

In the current era, developed countries may be on the verge of a similar transition. Robotics and machine learning have improved productivity and enhanced the economies of many nations. Artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced into finance, transportation, defense, and energy management. The internet of things (IoT) is facilitated by high-speed networks and remote sensors to connect people and businesses. In all of this, there is a possibility of a new era that could improve the lives of many people.