Only 20% of global tech workers in developed economies are women. In AI only 14% of total workforce is female, generating further inequality as a result of gender-biased algorithm generation. More: 85% of global venture capital funds went to all male teams last year -up to 93% in Europe-. Still, paradoxically, automation and AI may end up helping to reduce gender inequality in the world of labour, as published by a McKinsey Global Institute recent study.
The prestigious consulting firm has modeled potential job losses, transitions or creations due to automation down the road to 2030. MGI considers improved productivity and growing investment in technology, infrastructure and healthcare worldwide could result in net jobs creation by 2030. As jobs demanding physical and manual skills and basic cognitive skills lose weight in global labour market, while higher cognitive skills and most notably, social, emotional and technological skills will be more and more demanded. According to current distribution of jobs across sectors and genders, MGI considers, this trend could result in enhanced participation of women in workforce as well as a reduction -though not disparition- of gender pay gap.
Between 40 and 60 million women -from 7% to 24% of global female workforce- and 60 to 275 million male workers -8% to 28%- will need to re-skill and transition to different job categories for this prediction to become true. Although it sounds like a titanic shift, there are examples in history showing it can be done. In China, 55% of total employees were so in agriculture by 1991. In 2016 they were only 16%. Nine million people changed from jobs in primary sector to industry and services every single year. In Massachusetts, the number of women working in the garment industry multiplied by 6 from 1837 to 1870.
In developed economies, job losses by women will be in relatively worse paid categories such as clerical services - 14% of women in 2030 vs 17% in 2017-, and job gains will be in better paid jobs like professionals and associate professionals -38% of women in 2030 vs 30% in 2017-. Still, women will continue to be underrepresented in the category of managers and legislators, the best paid of all. In developing economies, most of transitions both for men and women alike will be from agricultural to service and professional jobs.
However, other than transitions among existing jobs there will also be entirely new job categories, where as much as 9% of global workforce would be working by 2030. These include, “wealth jobs”, average paid positions related with well-being and where women are better positioned than men, “last-mile jobs”, a gender neutral sector with lower salaries and “frontier jobs”, highly paid jobs in tech development, that could be mostly dominated by men, as nowadays only 35% of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths -STEM- students are female.
Being able to conduct the transitions between existing jobs and improving female presence in technological development are the key to succeed in the battle of inequality. As MGI puts it, “action is needed, effective measures can help women to maintain or improve their current share of employment and increase their representation in technical fields and tech leadership roles”. There are three fields considered fundamental by the report where companies and authorities should promote measures: re-skilling, addressing labour mobility issues and tackling access and representation issues in tech.
As a young robotics company, Acutronic Robotics is committed to promoting equality in the robotics industry, with among other initiatives, sponsoring ROSCon 2019 Diversity Scholarships. This program is aimed at making it financially possible for candidates from underrepresented communities to attend ROSCon in Macau at the end of October.