International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, left, and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati participate in a panel discussion titled 'Empowering Women in the Workplace' during the 2018 Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Female Jobs More Likely to Be Displaced by Technology, IMF Report Says


OCTOBER 10, 2018

Nusa Dua. At least 26 million traditionally female jobs in 30 countries, including Indonesia, are likely to be displaced by technology within the next two decades, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Tuesday.

In the report titled "Gender, Technology and the Future of Work," the IMF found that 11 percent of female workers are at risk of being replaced by automation, compared with 9 percent of male workers.

"The key finding of this report is that automation will likely affect women more than men. Not because they are inferior, but because women often perform tasks that do not add as much value. [These jobs] are more repetitive and more [easily] automated," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told participants in a panel discussion titled "Empowering Women in the Workplace" during the 2018 Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Nusa Dua, Bali.

The IMF also noted in the report that women aged 40 and above, and those with less education and working in lower-skill jobs, are more likely to be displaced by automation.

Such women are less endowed with the skills needed to thrive in sectors that play a prominent role in the digital era, such as engineering and information and communications technology. At the same time, women are also underrepresented in professional and managerial positions across all sectors and areas.

The IMF based its conclusions on a survey by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which collected detailed information on task composition, task frequency and the extent of ICT use in the workplace among adults aged 16 to 65 in 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"Something can be done and it is [through] education, helping them not only to become computer literate, but also to adjust to technology challenges, and to divert resources to education to help them acquire the right skillsets that could better equip them," Lagarde said.

The report noted that governments should invest more in women's education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as it can help break down gender stereotypes in societies.

In Indonesia, the government is working on affirmative policies aimed at women, who are still underrepresented on higher managerial levels due to the responsibilities of motherhood.

"Women often have higher GPAs in school but in the later stage of their careers, their performance often falls behind their male colleagues," Lagarde said, referring to grade point averages.

"Motherhood is always seen as a woman's job. Without any policy support, it will be impossible for women to advance their careers," Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

Sri Mulyani said that while it has yet to become official policy in Indonesia for government offices to create woman-friendly spaces, the Finance Ministry has ordered its offices across the archipelago to provide child care facilities, play areas and breastfeeding rooms.

The government is also promoting policies that encourage women to pursue opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the minister said.