Automation is disproportionately impacting women
Women make up the majority of workers in apparel industries facing the highest risk of automation.
The ILO reports that ASEAN countries facing the highest risk of automation in the textile, clothing, and footwear (TCF) sector are Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In these countries, 60 to 80 percent of the workforce is women, who are often concentrated in the lower tiers of the supply chain as helpers and sewing machine operators.
Risk of Automation & Female Share of TCF Workforce
Women are estimated to make up 75 percent of all garment workers around the world.
In many countries, apparel manufacturing is the main source of employment for women. Multiple factors, ranging from traditional gender roles and lack of access to higher education, often prevent women from entering higher paid jobs in other industries.
Automation may take women’s jobs first.
Automation may push women out of employment first for several reasons:
Companies using sewing robots will no longer need sewing machine operators, who are often women.
The male breadwinner model may convince companies to give men priority for jobs .
Women are under-represented in leadership roles that make hiring decisions.