The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation
Sustainable Development Goals: 5, 8, 9
- SDG 5 - Gender Equality
- SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Concerted and creative new solutions are needed to enable women to seize new opportunities in the automation age; without them, women may fall further behind in the world of work.
The age of automation, and on the near horizon, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies offer new job opportunities and avenues for economic advancement, but women face new challenges overlaid on long-established ones. Between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations by 2030, often into higher-skilled roles. To weather this disruption, women (and men) need to be skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy, but women face pervasive barriers on each, and will need targeted support to move forward in the world of work.
A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation (PDF–2MB), finds that if women make these transitions, they could be on the path to more productive, better-paid work. If they cannot, they could face a growing wage gap or be left further behind when progress toward gender parity in work is already slow.
What the future of work will mean for women
Women and men face a similar scale of potential job losses and gains, but in different areas. To adapt to the new world of work, they will need to be skilled, mobile, and tech savvy.
This new research explores potential patterns in “jobs lost” (jobs displaced by automation), “jobs gained” (job creation driven by economic growth, investment, demographic changes, and technological innovation), and “jobs changed” (jobs whose activities and skill requirements change from partial automation) for women by exploring several scenarios of how automation adoption and job creation trends could play out by 2030 for men and women given current gender patterns in the global workforce.
These scenarios are not meant to predict the future; rather, they serve as a tool to understand a range of possible outcomes and identify interventions needed. We use the term jobs as shorthand for full-time-equivalent workers.
The research examines six mature economies (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and four emerging economies (China, India, Mexico, and South Africa), which together account for around half of the world’s population and about 60 percent of global GDP.