According to a recent McKinsey report on the future of work, companies are “undergoing a radical transformation,” and, as a result, people “could experience significant improvements in their working lives, spending less time on repetitive routine tasks such as data processing and physical manual labor, thus freeing up time to use social, emotional, and higher cognitive skills instead.”
The study found that men and women will be impacted in different ways by automation and other emerging technologies. The authors believe women may have an advantage over their male counterparts or be poised to benefit in a number of areas as the future of work unfolds.
A few of the most interesting possible benefits are summarized below:
- A need for social and emotional skills: In its estimation of how automation will impact the workforce, McKinsey found that in just over a decade workers may be spending up to 24 percent more time using social and emotional skills. As women have been shown to have higher abilities in these areas, as well as greater emotional awareness, this could be an opportunity for many women to advance themselves in their respective fields.
- More time to focus on interesting work: The McKinsey study found that women were more likely than men to have their jobs partially automated. In this scenario, women would be turning much of their mundane tasks, like clerical work or routine communications, over to machines, freeing them to devote time to more interesting and stimulating tasks.
- Increased flexibility: Generally speaking, women tend to hold more childcare and other responsibilities in the home, which can be difficult to balance with demands of long hours in the office. The McKinsey study suggests this could be less of an issue in the future. Greater technology adoption may reduce the need to be physically located with colleagues and telecommuting could become more widely adopted.
- Creating new categories: By 2030, McKinsey believes that nearly one in ten women will be in jobs that don’t even exist now. Think about how machine learning and AI have powered companies like Uber, creating entirely new occupations in the process. What new jobs can we expect to see in 11 years’ time?
So, will robots and other autonomous innovations give women a boost in the workplace? To increase the likelihood of success, it’s important that women hone their skills to match the demands of the future with a particular emphasis on technology. As Forbes contributor, Kim Elsesser put it, “If women can take advantage of opportunities that arise in the next decade, then their future may hold more interesting and better paying work.”