AI is here to Steal Jobs but Women at Greater Risk of Employment Loss, finds Report

By: GWL Team | Friday, 28 July 2023

Over the past few years, AI has rapidly permeated various industries, becoming an integral part of our daily lives. From virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to personalized recommendations on streaming platforms, AI technologies have enhanced user experiences and simplified tasks. In fields like healthcare, finance, and manufacturing, AI is revolutionizing processes by analyzing vast amounts of data, enabling more accurate diagnoses, optimizing financial strategies, and automating repetitive tasks.

The impact of AI technology is being felt by both women and men, albeit with varying consequences and implications. On one hand, AI has the potential to create opportunities for empowerment and equality by automating repetitive tasks and enabling more flexible work arrangements. However, there are concerns about gender bias in AI algorithms, leading to unequal outcomes for women in areas like hiring, lending, and criminal justice. Biases present in training data can be perpetuated by AI systems, exacerbating existing gender disparities.

Concerns have been expressed regarding the possible effects of artificial intelligence and automation on the employment market in new research from the McKinsey Global Institute.

More Women Than Men at Risk of Job Loss Due to Automation: McKinsey Report

The survey predicts that the growth of AI and automation will cause more women than men to lose their employment by the end of the decade. According to the report, by 2030, over one-third of American labour hours might be automated, causing profound shifts across a range of industries.

The most likely industries to see job losses as a result of automation are those providing food services, customer assistance, sales, and office support. Sadly, women outnumber males in these industries and typically hold more low-paying occupations than men, making them more susceptible to losing their employment. The survey also finds additional categories that are more at risk, such as Black and Hispanic workers, non-college graduates, and both the youngest and oldest workers.

In contrast, the research asserts that automation will cause certain industries to develop significantly. Construction, STEM areas, and healthcare are predicted to grow rapidly. However, employees in the client service, catering, administrative support, and production professions may be negatively impacted.

According to the analysis, at least 12 million people would have to switch employment as their sectors contract, which is 25% higher than what was originally anticipated in a report from February 2021. The majority of these impacted people will probably be in lower-paying jobs, needing the development of new skills in order to move into new industries.

The study also predicts that government expenditures in green technologies, the growing need for health-care employees as the population ages, and structural adjustments to the workforce as a result of the pandemic would all have an impact on the labour market. These developments in AI will enable the creation of new employment in future industries while also making some current ones obsolete.

Intersection of AI, Automation, and Low-Wage Employees

The report's key finding is that across all categories, low-wage employees will face the greatest risk of job loss in 2030. During that time, over 80% of all prospective career changes may be made by workers making less than $38,200. Retail salespeople, cashiers, and other low-wage workers—of whom a greater percentage are women—are particularly at danger as a result.

The research also emphasizes possible advantages of AI for current employment, though. Automation may allow white-collar professionals to spend less time on repetitive or technical jobs and more time on creative or strategic duties that AI cannot yet do. According to the research, professionals in industries like law and civil engineering are among those who stand to gain the most from these modifications.

Unfortunately, a majority of the industries that are predicted to gain the most from AI are controlled by men. For instance, just 17.1% of civil engineers and 38.5 percent of lawyers in 2022 were female, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. As AI develops, new occupations could be created, but not everyone may have access to or desire for these positions. As a result of the nature of the content that has to be recognised, responsibilities like data labelling, which can be mentally challenging, may be forced upon workers who now hold low-paying professions with long hours or unpleasant working conditions.

Exposing Gender Disparities in AI Exposed Industries

In a previous analysis of Goldman Sachs data, Paige Smith, an MBA candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Mark McNeilly, a marketing professor at the school, discovered that 8 in 10 female workers in the country have jobs that are "highly exposed" to automation, compared to 6 in 10 male workers. This further emphasizes the potential impact on women in the workforce since more than a quarter of their duties can be mechanized by generative AI.

The McKinsey research emphasizes that significant efforts will need to be made to retrain and train individuals in the skills necessary for the future labour market in order to face the difficulties posed by AI and automation. Additionally, it gives firms a chance to recruit from underutilized groups including senior citizens, those without college degrees, people with impairments or employment gaps, and people with criminal histories. The research makes the case that AI might be used to find and recruit applicants from these groups, but there are still issues to be resolved around potential bias in AI and unequal hiring procedures.

It is anticipated that the employment market will be greatly impacted by the emergence of artificial intelligence and automation by the end of the decade, making things tougher for women. While certain industries may develop as a result of automation, it is important to provide equal access to new employment possibilities and give employees the training and upskilling they need to succeed in the shifting labour market.