Thinking outside the box about the future of work for women is essential for managers and the C-suite. The challenge of keeping women at work – not letting jobs for women slip through the cracks – is a multi-layered factor given the many pressures and gaps with which women’s careers are fraught.
In the new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “The future of women at work – Transitions in the age of automation”, it has been observed that women have less time to add to their existing skills and build new ones. This can be attributed to the demands on their time by household tasks, family members who require care, and immobility to reach far-off locations. Highly-skilled women are arguably more secure in their positions while as many as 12 million women are faced with the possibility of being right-sized by their outfits as automation takes over by 2030. The report covers the developed nations as well as the four major players from the emerging markets – Mexico, India, China, and South Africa.
You might also be interested to read: More Women In ‘Soft’ Jobs, Fewer Managers: UN Body Report
If personal life stages that cause women to drop out of the workforce such as childbearing and child-rearing are set aside, there are aspects such as technical acumen that threaten to disrupt the future of work for women. Even as women begin their careers, the gender parity between women who enter STEM fields against men is extremely wide. Not having a background of the hard sciences and quantitative skills can become a major roadblock to reskilling, especially when the possibility of Artificial Intelligence taking over jobs looms large over tech-adjacent jobs.
It is a fact that automation will proceed to take over most of the repetitive jobs in the market in the coming years. The jobs held by most women who work at the entry-level or mid-range skill-level will be rendered redundant. Forward-looking employers with women empowerment in mind need to bring their heads together to keep their female workers abreast of these changes. That’s not to say men are not subject to the need for upgrading and re-skilling.
Gender equality in India, though bleak, shows that men too are set to be relieved from work to the tune of 44 million jobs due to the advent of automation. But the point of focus of this article is the multitude of factors that hold women at work back. Specific points of concern such as affordable and safe transportation, infrastructural facilities, and safety issues that are not relevant to men are covered in this report.
In the McKinsey report, it is acknowledged that managers who bring out targeted training programs, workshops, and entrepreneurship opportunities for women save the metrics of gender equality in the workplace. A close second in priority is the need to provide safe transportation, child-care facilities, and self-paced reskilling opportunities. These practical considerations allow jobs for women to be less constrained by logistical difficulties and afford motivation and self-assurance in Indian women.
Offering these support features to women at work, while promoting reskilling and upskilling opportunities for women in the workplace is the way forward. It allows a greater number, from different life-stages to participate in the global movement towards the future of work for women.
You might also be interested to read: Women On Board: The Prolonging Case Of Gender Equality In India
- The future of women at work – Transitions in the age of automation, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2019
- India Employer Forum, Rise In Salaried Workers, Women Fare Better: NSO, November 2019