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Fewer women than men fear losing job to machine

Fewer women than men fear losing job to machine

Women also mostly positive about workplace surveillance tech, study finds.

The majority of employed women have little concern about the possibility of losing their job to a machine or computer, according to a University of Sydney study.

Sixty-nine per cent of women currently working were ‘not concerned at all’ or ‘not too concerned’ about the impact of automation on their job security.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 women and 500 men aged between 16 and 40 for the Women and the Future of Work study, which explored women's attitudes and experiences in the workplace.

Men were more likely than women (39 per cent versus 28 per cent respectively) to say they had concerns about automation in relation to their jobs.

“The impact of automation or technology on their employment security was not a top-of-mind concern for women in the discussion groups,” the report states.

“When prompted, they could see how technological development had impacted on their workplace for both good and ill. However, while they could envisage potential job losses or the need to re-train, most did not feel threatened by these changes.”

Working women in minority groups were more likely to feel concerned. Women with a disability, women born in Asia and culturally and linguistically diverse women showed higher rates of concern than average.

In a separate study, commissioned by IT firm Infosys, more than two thirds (69 per cent) of Australian workers were concerned AI would replace them, a slight increase since last year.

And their fears are fully founded, with 40 per cent of Australian business decision makers admitted they had or would be making positions redundant as a result of advancements in AI.

According to University of Oxford researchers, 47 per cent of workers may be at risk of losing their jobs to automation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has predicted that the top three jobs which will be impacted include transactional sales workers, machinery operators and drivers, and clerical and administrative workers.

Surveillance tech at work

As part of the study, working women were asked to discuss their feelings about surveillance in their workplaces.

Many of the women see it as part-and-parcel of everyday life and do not question its use. In fact, in industries such as hospitality or retail, most see it as a benefit to them in that it provides evidence of their honesty, if challenged,” the report said.

“Others described how it provides them with protection in working environments (such as a hospital emergency department) where their physical safety might be under threat.”

A minority of women expressed discomfort at their employer watching their every move.

“I actually feel very watched now because I had to sign this whole policy about how they’re monitoring us … I just didn’t like that they can look at you at any time and it just kind of feels like they think that I can’t do the job, do they think that I’m doing something wrong?” a woman in Parramatta responded.

Workplace surveillance is pervasive in Australia, which affords employees few legal protections against it. A separate country-by-country analysis of legislation around employee monitoring by legal firm Hogan Lovells, found Australia to be one of the easiest countries for employers to snoop on their workers. 

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Tags diversityjobscareerautomationworkplacerobotsjob lossesuniversity of sydneyAIgenderwomensexismfemaleattitudes

More about AustraliaAustralian Bureau of StatisticsInfosysUniversity of Sydney

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