Many economists and technologists believe the world is on the brink of a new industrial revolution, in which advances in the field of artificial intelligence will obsolete human labor at an unforgiving pace. Two Oxford researchers recently analyzed the skills required for more than 700 different occupations to determine how many of them would be susceptible to automation in the near future, and the news was not good: They concluded that machines are likely to take over 47% of today’s jobs within a few decades
This is a dire prediction, but one whose consequences will not fall upon society evenly. A close look at the data reveals a surprising pattern: The jobs performed primarily by women are relatively safe, while those typically performed by men are at risk.
It should come as no surprise that despite progress on equality in the labor force, many common professions exhibit a high degree of gender bias. For instance, of the 3 million truck drivers in the U.S., more than 95% are men; of the nearly 3 million secretaries and administrative assistants, more than 95% are women. Autonomous vehicles are a not-too-distant possibility, and when they arrive, those drivers’ jobs will evaporate; office-support workers suffer no such imminent threat.