Women to lose more and gain little by changes to the world of work

4th July 2022
Research published today (04/07/2022) by Wales’ leading gender equality charity, Chwarae Teg, reveals that digitalisation and the transition to a green economy risks further entrenching women’s unequal economic position.

Towards a Gender Equal Wales: Responding to a Transforming Economy sets out how our economic world is shifting at an unprecedented rate through the twin trends of digitalisation and the need to transition to a green economy. This transformation, however, is impacting women and other marginalised groups differently.

As our economy and lives become more reliant on technology, women are at greater risk of losing their jobs. Of the roles seen as at the highest risk of automation, 64% of workers in those roles are women compared to 36% of men. Additionally, women from an ethnic minority are at even greater risk of losing their job through automation.

To compound the issue, women continue to be under-represented in the sectors which are likely to see growth in skilled, well-paid roles as a consequence of digitalisation and automation. Women currently make up only 23% of science, research, engineering and technology professionals and associate professionals in Wales.

The report also highlights how women are being impacted to a greater extent by the climate crisis and action to reduce emissions. Caring for the environment is becoming increasingly gendered and gender stereotypes are evident in who takes responsibility for household changes.

Women continue to be less likely to benefit from government investment and emerging jobs and training created as a result of net zero action. Government’s focus on decarbonising industries such as construction and energy where gender segregation is commonplace sees women losing out on opportunities to progress in their careers and take on new opportunities.

In the face of these major transformative trends, we must ask ourselves what kind of economy we want in the future. That’s why, in their Towards a Gender Equal Wales: Responding to a Transforming Economy report, Chwarae Teg are calling for action from government and business to prepare for these trends and ensure that they do not adversely impact women and other marginalised groups.

Chwarae Teg’s recommendations include a call for Welsh Government to develop a clear apprenticeship pathway into digital degree-level qualifications, adopt a broader definition of a “green economy” that moves beyond decarbonisation of industry, and ensure that programmes to retrofit homes are used to deliver on social justice goals.

Only by taking proactive measures now can we ensure that the transformation of our economy is a tool in tackling inequalities rather than entrenching them further.

This research brings into sharp relief how the transformation of our economy will impact women across Wales differently and potentially unfairly.

“Women are at risk of experiencing a ‘double whammy’, shouldering the most negative impacts of automation and the climate crisis, while not benefiting from the investment in new jobs and industries as we embrace digitalisation and transition to a green economy.

“Despite these clear risks, as this report shows, not enough attention is being paid to how tackling inequality is linked to the transformation of our economy. If we do not act now, we risk seeing inequalities in our society persist as our economic world radically changes.

“These trends in our economy are not inevitable and not uncontrollable. Women, and especially women from ethnic minorities, should not have to carry the burden of changes to our economic world.

“No single actor can ensure that we are fully prepared for the transformation of our economy and that is why it is vital that government and business work together now to ensure that we use the transformation of our economy as a way of tackling longstanding inequalities so that they are not entrenched further.

Cerys Furlong
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg
4th Jul 2022
Towards a Gender Equal Wales: Responding to a Transforming Economy