Recent tech news has evidenced how women are facing increased opportunities in the tech sector which had traditionally been allotted to males. Where bias in the workforce has systematically marginalized women, however, the evidence that women actually have increased opportunities in tech is not hard-fast since automation is also showing that women in blue-collar jobs are being hit hardest by automation and other forms of new technology. Ultimately, men in blue collar fields will likely be hit hardest in the long-run, but how new tech is allowing female workers to entry the blue-collar job market is notable today.
For instance, with the potential rates of job automation, jobs held by women or a mixture of both men and women show an augmentation in the fields of administration and support service, wholesale and retail trade, information and communication, manufacturing and accommodation and foodservice. Women in blue-collar fields whose jobs are seemingly diminishing in number due to automation are also finding benefits for other hard-won fights such as extended parental and maternity leave allowing them the legal right to return to their jobs. Add to this the act that more and more companies are making it possible for women to enter the workforce of fitters, welders, machinists and other tradespeople, we are seeing an increased pattern of women being given on-the-job training in these fields which is largely due to the role that technology is having as more and more typically labor-heavy jobs are being semi-automated to allow women into these fields.
There are many fields that require an enormous amount of physical strength such as construction and renovation. Where women are today underrepresented by 80 percent in craft jobs, new tech can act as a boon for women’s inclusion in physically-demanding jobs where robotics assist the worker in picking up heavy loads. Even the realization of construction sites or crawl space encapsulation today is largely executed through old and new technologies that involve the hoisting loads that even strong men would otherwise be incapable of undertaking. The use of exoskeletons is just one of many examples of how women are benefitting from new tech’s inclusion in the various fields of manual labor.
Another example of women entering the blue-collar labor force thanks to new technology can be seen through the Women In Trucking Association, Inc. (WIT), an American non-profit organization that focuses on the employment of women in the trucking industry. WIT’s mission is to address the obstacles that normally keep women from entering or succeeding in the trucking industry, encourage the employment of women in the industry and to celebrate the success of its members. Founded by Ellen Voie in 2007, who currently serves as the President and CEO, WIT focuses primarily on women who are already a part of the industry and those who have an interest in the trucking sector. Operating as a support network with over 5,500 individuals and corporate members, both men and women, the WIT has created myriad opportunities for female drivers in a field long dominated by men. Voie has also encouraged the truck manufacturers to install an alarm in trucks that will automatically sound when someone attempts to break in, instead of requiring that the driver manually set off the alarm.
In fact, trucking is one field that has seen an enormous rise of women drivers in recent years in large part due to how trucking technology has revolutionized the industry. Where trucking was traditionally a field for men only due to the dangers on and off the road, today’s new forms of fleet tracking and navigation software allows for drivers to take on the shortest and safest routes which results in increased efficiency and driver safety. Many companies have also given their female drivers self-defense training which allows women to enter the profession while reasonably equipping them with the skills much needed to ensure their safety.
Where technology is viewed as proving to be a deficit for manual laborers where their livelihoods are being replaced by robots and computers, evidence today suggests that there are benefits to new technology in the various fields of manual labor—especially for women. The trick to ensuring that women face similar opportunities in blue-collar jobs will inevitably come down to companies that decide to be proactive in ensuring the physical safety of women in professions long-held by men and by acknowledging that women are just as able to hold these jobs given the proper safety assurance, training and implementation of new technology in the field.