Royce Shook

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The future of women at work: Part 2

McKinsey Global Institute found that potential job losses and gains for men and women could be different. Service-oriented and clerical support occupations could account for 52 percent of women’s job losses, but machine operation and craftwork occupations could account for 40 percent of men’s losses. The good news is that women are well represented in the fasted-growing sector, which is healthcare. This sector could account for 25 percent of potential jobs gained for women, while manufacturing could account for 25 percent of jobs gained for men.

Worldwide, 40 million to 160 million women—7 to 24 percent of those currently employed—may need to transition across occupations (the wide range reflects different paces of technology). For men, the range is comparable at 8 to 28 percent. If women take advantage of transition opportunities, they could maintain their current share of employment; if they cannot, gender inequality in work could worsen.

To make these transitions, women will need new skills. In mature economies, only jobs requiring a college or advanced degree may experience net growth in demand. In emerging economies, the many women working in subsistence agriculture with little education may have difficulty securing work in other sectors. Even women remaining in their current jobs will need to refresh their skills; they could be more prone than men to partial automation of their jobs and will need to learn to work alongside automated systems.

More women work in lower-paid occupations than men. In mature economies, demand for high-wage labour is expected to grow, while demand for medium- and low-wage labour will shrink. Many emerging economies could experience stronger growth in demand for higher‑wage jobs. Enabling women to move up the skills ladder could prepare them for higher-paying jobs and more economic opportunity. However, a potential glut of workers in lower-wage jobs, including men displaced from manufacturing, could put lower pressure on wages.

The future of women at work: Part 2

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