Is the future of work a man’s world? 3 ways women can win

“This is a man’s world … but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, without a woman or a girl.” So said James Brown in 1966 and there’s no doubt progress has been made around gender parity since then. These well-known words should seem outdated. But are they? Is the future of jobs a man’s world? The reality is it may be.

Today, technology is changing the way work gets done at an unprecedented rate and we are seeing the emergence of a skills revolution. Helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time, and one of the biggest impacts will be felt by women.

The gender gap could get wider

The industries most affected by artificial intelligence, digitization and robotics will disproportionately impact women. All sorts of roles are threatened by automation – sales, business and financial operations, office and administration – all of which tend to have higher proportions of women.

On top of this, the industries anticipating jobs growth are underrepresented by women: architecture, engineering, computers and mathematics. And while we may have reached near parity in the number of men and women graduating with degrees in social sciences and mathematics, at least in the United States, in computer science we’re in reverse. Today, women make up only 18% of computer science graduates, compared with 37% in the 1980s.

If the current trajectory continues, women could face 3 million job losses and only half a million gains. That’s more than five jobs lost for every job gained. We may be heading towards an even bigger gender gap.

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