Women more likely than men to be replaced at work by robots and smart machines

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      Women face greater risks than men of losing their jobs due to artificial intelligence.

      A study indicates that 44.4 percent of women in Canada’s paid workforce confront a moderate to high possibility of being displaced from work by robots and smart machines.

      The ratio for men is 34.8 percent.

      The study titled “Automation and the Sexes: Is Job Transformation More Likely Among Women?” utilized 2016 data.

      The Statistics Canada paper authored by Marc Frenette and Kristyn Frank came out Thursday (September 24, 2020).

      Frenette and Frank noted that a number of factors are linked to greater automation risks confronting women.

      “For example, women aged 55 and older were 20.5 percentage points more likely to face a high risk of job transformation as a result of automation than their male counterparts,” the authors wrote.

      In comparison, women and men aged 18 to 24 faced about the same risk.

      Other groups of women also face a “particularly high risk”.

      They include those with “no postsecondary qualifications (12.3 percentage points more likely than comparable men) or have a postsecondary education with no degree (13.1 percentage point difference)”.

      Also, women who have a “literacy or numeracy proficiency below Level 3 (11.6 and 16.8 percentage points, respectively)”.

      Women born in Canada (12.9 percent more like), have a disability (18.2 percent), work part time (17.2 percent), are not in a union or covered by a collective bargaining agreement (13.7 percent), and are employed in small to mid-sized firms (with no more than 10 employees: 19.2 percent; or between 51 and 250 employees: 20.6 percent).

      The authors noted that the data did not include information such as the extent to which women and men were performing repetitive work.

      “Previous literature has shown that women were more likely to report performing repetitive tasks than men in the same occupation, which could put them at greater risk of automation-related job transformation,” they noted.

      Moreover, the authors recalled that past studies indicate that “women were less likely than men in the same occupation to upgrade their skills through on-the-job training, which could also contribute to women’s higher risk of job transformation”.

      “However, these differences were lower than within-occupation gender differences in the intensity of performing routine tasks,” leading researchers in 2017 to “conclude that women’s higher vulnerability to job transformation was largely driven by gender differences in the distribution of job tasks.”

      Frenette and Frank noted that the subject needs to be further analyzed with a “consideration of additional factors”.

      “Future research might benefit from examining more within-occupation differences in men’s and women’s job tasks, such as repetitive tasks, as well as differences in their training or upskilling behaviour,” they wrote.

      More details here.