AI, its impact on changing nature of work and gender inequality: A review of existing evidences

AI, its impact on changing nature of work and gender inequality: A review of existing evidences

(Labor Law & Economic Division)

  • Rajnish Ranjan Prasad, IIHMR University 




The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the economy, labor, and society has long been a topic of debate — particularly in the last decade — amongst policymakers, business leaders, and the broader public. Estimates of its current and imminent impact have varied widely, often reaching contradictory conclusions. At the same time, there is no doubt that AI will have significant impact on the economy and employment which will influence the socio-economic development and inequality across the countries and within the countries. This impact will be very profound on the Income and wealth inequality, which have been growing for decades and have now reached or exceeded historic highs in many countries. In addition to job loss and wage suppression, automation may also increase income inequality by increasing the share of income going to profits vs. wages. The share of income produced by labor already is declining, and with automation, it likely will fall further. However, the impact of this automation is not same across the countries or among different population groups. 

As automation technologies spread, the employment and wage growth is expected to be concentrated in jobs that require high social and analytical skills—jobs that are already relatively highly compensated today, predominantly in developed countries and dominated by the males. Workers in mid- to low-skill roles who rely on physical labor or analytical skills vulnerable to automation are at higher risk of losing their jobs or facing pressure on wages. Within these workers, female are at high risk as higher number of women are engaged in low-paying routine jobs which are highly prone to automation. The evidences shows that those who lose their jobs may face lower incomes throughout their career after being reabsorbed into the workforce, and some may choose to drop out entirely.  Also, the impact of these will vary significantly across the countries as the large corporates, who are benefiting significantly because of their ability to invest in technology and human resources, are mostly in developed countries, while the young labor force will be more concentrated in developing countries which have more favorable demography. Besides that, much of the work available in developing countries is relatively unskilled and routine, repetitive and predictable in nature. Work of this type is destined to be automated. With in the developing countries also, women will face more burnt of automation as higher number of women are engaged in such jobs in comparison to man. 


In order to understand the impact of AI on changing nature of work and its implication for gender inequality, a review of existing studies were undertaken. After a search on internet, 46 studies/ reports were shortlisted for primary review and after reviewing the methodologies, data sources, completeness and relevance, 12 studies were selected for detailed review. 


(The detailed review is ongoing and will be completed by November,19 end. The summary findings are based on initial review)

The existing studies shows that a larger proportion of the female workforce is at a high risk for automation than the male workforce (27 percent versus 23 percent). It is estimated that across the countries, 40 million to 180 million women may need to transition across occupations (the wide range reflects different pace of automation).  Less well-educated and older female workers (aged 40 and older), and those in clerical, service, and sales positions are disproportionately exposed to automation. Though new opportunities of employment will also emerge however it would require for women to get reskilled in the newer areas. Long-established barriers will make it harder for women to make transitions. They have less time to reskill or search for employment because they spend much more time than men on unpaid care work; are less mobile due to physical safety, infrastructure, and legal challenges; and have lower access to digital technology and participation in STEM fields than men. 

Way Forward

World can’t progress when significant number of the women, across the world, will not be able to meaningful engaged in the work. In order to ensure that women are able to meaningful engaged in work, policy makers and businesses need to step up interventions, some targeted at women, to overcome these barriers. High priorities could include more investment in training and transitional support; more provision of childcare and safe and affordable transportation; addressing stereotypes about occupations; boosting women’s access to mobile internet and digital skills in emerging economies; and supporting women in STEM professions and entrepreneurship. If policy makers and business will fail to do so, gender inequality in work could get worsen.