We hear often in the news about the rise of automation and how millions of people will be replaced by robots and machines in the coming few years. While I don’t share the sentiment that there will be macroeconomic shifts so drastic that measures such as Universal Basic Income will be the only way to provide a means of spending for the average person in such an automated society, I did wonder about what kinds of jobs automation will replace and how it may disproportionally affect men.
Generally speaking, automation and robots will have the largest immediate impact on jobs that are repeatable and physically demanding. Work such as manufacturing and farming has already been largely automated and similar types of work may be next on the way. Let’s take a look at the jobs listed on Kiplinger, a D.C. based business journal, regarding “8 Jobs That Will be Replaced by Robots Soon” and look at them on a gender based lens.
1. Store Clerk
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,200,000 cashiers in the U.S. of which 73.8% are Female.
The Kiplinger article discusses the Amazon Go Store which has eliminated the checkout line using advanced cameras and additional sensors and Tally from Simbe Robotics which audits retail shelves for out-of-stock items. While Tally doesn’t equate to a cashier position, because the numbers in retail spaces heavily skew towards women, in this case it seems like women may be affected by automation more.
2. Data Analyst
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 1,929,000 accountants and auditors in the U.S. of which 60.6% are Female.
While not exactly the shame, the job function between accountants and auditors are similar enough to draw a comparison. Largely, positions where data is transcribed and or analyzed for reports are getting automated via software.
3. Fast-Food Worker
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 322,000 food preparation and serving workers, including fast food in the U.S. of which 63.0% are Female. There are 2,067,000 cooks of which 58.2% are Male.
Startups around Silicon Valley and elsewhere are trying to tackle the fast food industry by bringing down the cost of fast food even lower by eliminating the cost of labor. Cooking robots such as the “Flippy” are able to flip burgers without rest.
4. Truck Drivers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,549,000 driver workers and truck drivers in the U.S. of which 93.4% are Male. There are 631,000 industrial truck and tractor operators in the U.S. of which 91.9% are Male.
Automated trucks have been a breeding ground for autonomous vehicles as long hours and relatively simple driving routes along highways have made the opportunity irresistible with even large players such as Tesla developing trucks to help automate this industry.
5. Livery Drivers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 777,000 taxi drivers in the U.S. of which 82.0% are Male. This number may not include gig economy drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft as it may not be counted as a full-time economic activity.
Google’s Waymo has been developing self-driving cars for several years now and companies such as GM-Cruise and Uber are also spending considerable resources to automate everyday cars with concentrated effort and bringing down cost of the taxi service.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 302,000 postal service mail carriers in the U.S. of which 60.2% are Male.
Companies such as Grubhub and Marble are leveraging self-driving technologies for the delivery of food.
7. Security Guard
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 958,000 security guards and surveillance officers in the U.S. of which 77.6% are Male.
8. Front-line Soldiers
According to Pew Research, there are 1,340,533 active military personnel of which 83.0% are Male.
The 8 jobs discussed by Kiplinger account for roughly 15 million jobs in the U.S. of which 9.5 million belong to men. Thus, it seems that automation may indeed affect men about 1.6 times more than it will women.