Women and the Future of Work

There’s a growing consensus that women’s economic empowerment is necessary to drive global growth and sustainability. Yet governments and companies around the world have done little to respond to how the changing nature of work will impact women differently from men. Despite a wealth of research on gender and on the future of work through the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution—and even some research bringing these topics together—not much is changing in practice.  

In our view, there are three reasons for this apparent lack of action. First, much of the existing research focuses on broad impacts of changing work environments on women in the United States and Europe. There is little guidance for companies and governments active in other (very different) areas. Second, much of this same research focuses on the macroeconomic level, rather than on building practical programs and policies. Finally, both companies and governments often operate in silos, with women’s empowerment in one department and issues related to future work in another. Whatever the reason, failure to apply a gender lens to strategies that address the impact of technology on workers and workplaces runs the risk of undermining private- and public-sector efforts to advance women’s economic empowerment and drive sustainable development more broadly—including progress toward a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also will mean missing out on opportunities for women that new technologies present.

Learn more at the Stanford Social Innovation Review.