Women’s jobs in Canada are more at risk from automation, because they hold more than half of the roles that face an “elevated threat,” according to a recent study from the Royal Bank of Canada.

Women account for 54 per cent – or about 3.4 million jobs – of the 35 per cent of Canadian jobs that are at a greater risk of being eliminated by automation, the report said. Those include jobs in administration, bookkeeping and data-entry – all of which traditionally employ a higher number of women.

“When thinking of disruption, what comes to mind? For many, it’s a male factory worker losing his job to a robotic arm. However, automation is showing up all over the economy, not just in manufacturing,” RBC Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist Dawn Desjardins and RBC Senior Economist Andrew Agopsowicz wrote in the report.

“As it [automation] makes further inroads into the services sector, women face a higher risk of having their jobs displaced.”

Desjardins and Agopsowicz added that female employment in some of the best-paying and least-automatable professions remains low.

 “This discrepancy shows up most acutely in management occupations, where women’s underrepresentation has created a management skills gap,” the report said.

For people between the ages of 25 to 29, an employed man is almost twice as likely to be in a management position at 6.8 per cent, compared to just 3.9 per cent for women.

“Men tend to gain management experience at an earlier age, which enables them to start acquiring and developing the skills associated with organizing people and projects sooner,” the report said.

“This early divide compounds over the length of people’s careers and makes it more difficult for women to catch up.”

Women’s advantage

But, RBC’s economists were quick to point out that women’s skill sets may be better positioned than that of their male counterparts in the future.

“The future of work will rely on a new mix of skills— including critical thinking, social perceptiveness, writing and problem-solving. And, it is here that women possess a notable advantage,” the report said.

According to Desjardins and Agopsowicz, more men work in occupations where primary skills are specialized and task-specific, and men are more than twice as likely as women to work in an at-risk manufacturing jobs that don’t have close substitutes.