Chapter 2: The Industry Gender Gap
Tapping into the female talent pool is increasingly regarded as a prominent and promising area for workforce planning. The previous chapter of this Report found that more than a quarter of companies surveyed identified female talent as a key feature of future workforce strategy. Overall, 53% of our respondents perceive promoting women’s participation as a priority item on their organization’s senior leadership’s agenda and 58% are confident about the efficacy of their current measures undertaken in this regard.
Similarly, women’s rising labour force participation and economic power as consumers is increasingly perceived as a key driver of change across several industry sectors, such as in the Consumer industry, and one that is highly correlated with expected employment growth—an unambiguously positive trend in a somewhat turbulent landscape of technological, demographic and socio-economic change. The continuing ascent of women in the workplace is also contributing to increasingly diverse and dynamic workplace cultures.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold in different industries and job families, it will affect female and male workers in distinct ways. By their very nature, many anticipated disruptive changes have the potential to enable the narrowing of gender gaps in many industries. For example, household work, that is still primarily the responsibility of women in most societies, could be further automated, leaving women to put their skill sets to better use, including in the formal labour market.
At same time, however, job families expecting the highest employment growth, such as Architecture and Engineering and Computer and Mathematical, currently have some of the lowest female participation and find it much harder than average to recruit women. As these job families take on newfound applications across industries, will sectors which previously housed few such roles but have a strong track record of employing, retaining and leveraging female talent, be more adept than others at addressing their skills shortages by recruiting female talent? At the declining end of the labour market, the drivers of change identified by our respondents will heavily disrupt two of the job families most clearly dominated by women and men: Office and Administrative and Manufacturing and Production, respectively. In short, as industries prepare to adapt to disruptive change the dynamics of the industry gender gap will be at the centre of many facets of the new employment landscape.