South Africa Women to lose jobs to robots, warns WEF

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in its report, entitled "The Future of Jobs,  has warned that robots will take over 5 million jobs by 2020. The WEF claims white-collar workers -- administrative and office jobs -- are at the highest risk of being replaced.

To arrive at those numbers, the WEF surveyed 15 countries that make up 1.9 billion workers, included, South Africa, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.
The WEF researchers claim the world is "on the cusp" of a 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' due to the rapid advancements in everything from genetics and artificial intelligence to 3D printing and nanotechnologies. It's not the first time that it has been claimed a new industrial revolution is about to take place. 

WEF says that women will be affected most because their jobs are often concentrated in low-growth or declining areas such as sales, office and administrative roles.

The report said: “The burden of job losses seems to fall equally on women (48%) and men (52%). However, given that men represent a larger share of the overall job market than women, this even spread translates into a widening of the employment gender gap, with women losing five jobs for every job gained compared with men losing three jobs for every job gained.

“Given women’s low participation in STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematical] professions, one of the fastest-growing areas of job creation, women stand to gain only one new STEM job for every 20 lost across other job families, whereas the ratio for men is one new job for every four lost elsewhere,” the report said.

The respondents to the survey also noted that whereas it is often harder to recruit women than men for many specialist roles, particularly for jobs concentrated in the Computer and Mathematical and Architecture and Engineering job families, this trend is expected to improve somewhat over the 2015–2020 period. 

The report said the largest progress in overcoming this gender penalty for specialist recruitment is expected in the Basic and Infrastructure, Mobility and Media, Entertainment and Information industries, though it is expected to persist, for example, in the Information and Communication Technology sector.