Technology increase 'has hit women more than men'

Technology increase 'has hit women more than men'

The increasing use of technology by UK firms and the resulting fall in demand for workers who do routine tasks has hit women harder than men, according to new research.

At the same time, increasing demand for highly skilled computer-literate women and sustained demand for low-skilled women mean that wage inequality among women has risen but the overall gender pay gap has narrowed, according to the study by Joanne Lindley of the University of Surrey.

Her research, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2011 annual conference today, looks at the effects of the increased use of technology by UK firms over the past 15 years. It finds that:

- Demand for highly-skilled women who use computers has risen. Demand for low-skilled women has been unaffected by technological advances.

- Demand for medium-skilled women has fallen because many of these jobs have been replaced by machines, such as the job of a bank teller being replaced by an ATM.

- Male workers experienced the same rise in demand for those with high skills and sustained demand for low skills. But there was no change in demand for medium-skilled male workers. The main reason seems to be that technological change has provided more jobs for those with better numeracy skills and that more men have satisfied these requirements than women.

- Because demand for high-skilled women has risen as a result of technical change, there has been a fall in overall wage inequality between men and women.

She concludes that to reduce gender inequality in the labour market further, the Government should focus on better equipping women with the skills to take advantage of the changing structure of the British economy.

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