An imaginary conversation between a worker and a machine
WORKER: Will you replace my job?
WORKER: How likely?
MACHINE: Well, it depends on your gender, age, and education.
Automation is hardly a novel phenomenon; traditional sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing have experienced large substitutions of labor with machine capital in the past. With acceleration in computerization of manual labor in recent years, concerns are rising that a new wave of displacement by automation is upon us, with female workers rather than their male counterparts on the front line.
Why would female workers be more vulnerable? Because women perform more routine tasks than men-tasks that are more prone to automation. Moreover, women perform fewer tasks requiring analytical input or abstract thinking, where technological change can complement workers’ skills and improve their productivity.
Recent IMF research has zoomed in on how the threat of automation varies by workers’ gender, age, and education in 30 advanced and emerging market economies. The worker-level microdata from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s
Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) permits analysis of exposure to automation at the individual level.