The Role of Women in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Role of Women in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Damilola Phebean Owasanoye
Level: advanced
Exploring Economics, 2020
Topic: Development, gender, industrial policy
Format: Essay

The Role of Women in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Author: Damilola Phebean Owasanoye (mizzowahdamilola@gmail.com) 

Department of Economics, University of Benue, Nigeria 

This is an essay of the writing workshop Nigeria’s Readiness for and the Effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, published July 2020


ABSTRACT

In a bid to express Nigeria, a developing country’s readiness for the fourth industrial revolution, this paper identifies the roles female folks tend to play in the whole process, how women can actively be a part of the revolution, benefit from its positive contributions on one hand and the challenges it poses to the gender on the other. It also suggests necessary skills that will be economically viable for women to engage in without having much fear of the disruptions expected of the 4IR, and the economic power of women in managing the families as the 4IR is expected to cause a lot of household disruptions.

INTRODUCTION

Change they say is the only constant thing in life. The world is changing at a very fast rate, new ways of doing things are discovered, new methods of approach to the existing processes are unfolding, the world population is increasing, which brings about the need to find new, better and faster means of production to meet the demands of the teeming population. The change and development have brought about civilization, industrialization, digitalization, technological advancement and the much talked about the Fourth Industrial Revolution or what is known as the 4IR of today. The 4IR is a sequel to the first Industrial Revolution (1765) which used water and steam engine to mechanize production, the second Industrial Revolution (1870) made use of electric power (electricity, gas and oil) to create mass production, the Third Industrial Revolution (1969) used nuclear energy, electronics and information technology to automate production. The 4IR just like the previous three is not independent of itself; it builds on the 3rd Industrial Revolution and it largely makes use of the internet, it is characterized by the merging of the physical, digital and biological spheres, bringing about a new phase, a new way of life to the world at large. It’s now up to nations, countries, societies and individuals to accept this change, adjust their way of life to suit the new development and make the best of the opportunities it brings along with it.

CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW OF THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Industrial Revolution is a period of time during which work begins to be done more by machines in factories than by hand at homes, that is more work becomes automated. The 4IR is not from the blues as it was predicted a long time ago, nations have anticipated its arrival especially the developed ones, but to an extent, the developing countries still lag behind in its preparations, a good example is our country Nigeria, which is regarded to have failed to measure up in the industrial development compared to the other countries since it adopted industrial revolution from its colonial masters. The 4IR brings along with it breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Blockchain, Robotics, Autonomous Vehicles, 3D Printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), Extended Reality among others.

According to Rajj Shroff, Artificial intelligence (AI) involves using computers to do things that normally and traditionally require human intelligence. This means creating algorithms to classify, analyze and draw predictions from data. FORBES defined Extended Reality XR as an emerging umbrella term for all the immersive technologies. The ones we have already today are; Augmented reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). All immersive technologies extend the reality we experience by either blending the virtual and “real” worlds or by creating fully immersive experiences. There are more, like in the UI/UX, Neurotechnology, CRISPR, Robotics etc. each of these exists and under fast-paced development globally. Socially, there will be more interaction between man and computer/machine than man to man this possibility will then affect how we make sales, save, build, communicate, and a whole lot more.

PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

The world is undergoing a fast-revolutionary change with advances in technology, artificial intelligence, the fifth-generation computers coming into existence fully. Nigeria, a developing country will not be left out in the process. Researchers and scholars seem to be more concerned with how this will affect the male society since they are highly regarded as the stringer and labour active gender whereas the female society which contributes about 49.4% of the total Nigerian population isn’t paid enough attention as to how well they will fit into the whole process of change, the opportunities, threats and challenges they stand to face.

Research has shown that automation in productive sectors is placing women’s employment at high risk. It has been predicted that the larger share of job losses will be associated with female employees in various business administrative offices. A woman is involved to a great extent in low skill and routinised profession and as such automation is predicted to reduce employment in such female-dominated professions.

The issue of gender imbalance which is already in a state of concern is expected to widen with the inception of the 4IR, nevertheless, this should not be a setback as there are great new opportunities the 4IR brings at the disposal of women. However, there should be gender balance. A good percentage of companies today get societal pressures to address the issue of gender imbalance either by social media scrutiny and public opinion or by government regulation.

However, these roles women play in offices have provided a step into the labour market to educate women in many developed and developing markets over the last decades. The tools of the fourth industrial revolution could also potentially work in favour of women in the short run as household work is further automated, it may relieve some of the current dual burden of care-giving and breadwinning women face and at the same time changes in the nature of work makes it more possible.

Nigeria needs to tap into the female talent pool, this is increasingly regarded as a prominent and promising area of workforce planning. Women’s rising labour participation and economic power as consumers are increasingly recognized as key drivers of change across several industrial sectors, and one that is highly correlated with employment growth.

WOMEN ACQUISITION OF SKILLS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Economic development can be defined as the expression of the commercial and financial situation in developing countries by industrialization, which is the changing of the economy of a less developed country from one based on agriculture to one based on industry. Industrial development is central to the process of structural transformation which characterises economic development.

Today in Nigeria, women contribute 75% of the population in agriculture as farm managers and suppliers; hence women can do better and improve their participation in this sector by employing more modernized tools. But nevertheless, there are quite a number of other skills that can be developed to a commercial state and as well improve the financial position of the women folks and also the economy as a whole in the light of the 4IR.

Research has shown that some of the careers that won’t be very much negatively impacted by the fourth industrial revolution are those that require connection with human beings such as caring and teaching profession and jobs that rely on intrinsic human traits and abilities such as empathy, compassion, & cross-team collaboration skills often found in women and are regarded as “soft skills”. There will be high demand for psychological reasoning. This, regarded as “The care economy” is a very fertile ground for female folks to thrive, demand is expected to grow for those roles that tend to be associated with caregiving, therapist,  interpreters, lifestyle coaches, event planners, psychologists, nursing, personal care aides and other roles in healthcare that are traditionally dominated by women.

Women also stand a good chance in the ICT industry as it does not require much physical work but more of behind the screen, intellectual and reasoning capacity is required, and technical roles can be performed from a distance. It may interest anyone to know that a good number of women are taking up software development. This is an indicator of women in a good position to benefit much from the 4IR, as long as they have a good level of intelligence quotient (IQ), ability to train and work at a distance in these roles.

Graphics designing and Digital Marketing is another sector the female folks can thrive in as businesses and companies will do more of online marketing and sales which require a high amount of digital marketing as a whole, the business owners would want their goods to be well presented and attract online buyers. Hence there will be high demand for graphic skills in branding and brand identity designs, logo design, flyers and posters, illustrations and infographic posters, cover arts and many more. Google has organized an online free digital marketing training with certification attached that anyone can enrol in. The good thing is these can be done in the confines of her home just with necessary gadgets in possession.

Women can also thrive well in the fashion and beauty industry as tailors, makeup artist, designers, fashion stylist, hairstylist to mention but a few, the catering world isn’t an exception. Women should also get involved in politics more so they can speak more for themselves and also be involved in decisions that affect their lives.

Hence there exist a huge opportunity for women to start a business or work in these industries, keep their jobs, move up the career ladder and also attain administrative and managerial positions.

HOW FAMILIES WILL BE IMPACTED BY THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND THE ECONOMIC POWER OF WOMEN IN MANAGING THE FAMILY

The fourth industrial revolution is expected to cause a good level of disruptions in the household way of life, as changes would occur in almost every aspect of daily living. Now the focus should be on how to keep the family going, while our men are out there trying to get their hands on something, the womenfolk have a huge role to play in keeping the family together.

According to Mohyuddin, A woman is the companion of man in all areas of development including her contribution to the economy of her family; she plays the role of a mother, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, daughter-in-law in her bid to achieve this aim.

 Women contribute to the household economy directly by generating money and indirectly by causing savings. Mohyuddin defined the economic power of a woman as her ability to generate income or cause savings within the family. Women and support their households by educating their children about things pertinent to the society, societal rules and obligations so they can grow up to be better persons and useful to society.

Even now, through the revolutionary stage, it is very much necessary that women of all ages and sizes, learn a trade or pick up a skill, develop entrepreneurial skills and mindset to commercialize their skills to earn money and also employ their natural management skill to increase the level of savings which will result in an increase in investment, output and consumption and income. Hence throughout the disruptions the 4IR may cause, women have the strong ability to keep generating income to the family until stability is reached and men can now fully enjoy the benefits 4IR brings with it and on the other hand they perform house cleaning, peacekeeping and ensure a good atmosphere is maintained in the house.

CONCLUSION

Women in villages have been contributing to household economy since a long time ago when they participated fully in agricultural activities, and as the economy developed to a more industrial stage women also found their way into the employment sector as nurses, teachers, labourers in industries and many others just to make ends meet and provide for the family in the ways they can in as much as it is believed that their traditional roles should be confined within the household. As the world adjusts to the new and developing 4IR there arise the need to start educating the girl child, we must start fostering a culture of Science Technology, Engineering And Mathematics (STEM), Gender And Sex Education should be taught at all levels, and most importantly entrepreneurial skills and mindset should be inculcated in our youths.

 

REFERENCES

Ajah .I. Angela, Chigozie-okwum C. Chinyere, “Exploring The Benefit Of The 4th Industrial Revolution: The Nigerian Experience” International journal of science and technology (STECH), Ethiopia.(feb. 2019)

Dr. Anwaar Mohyuddin, “Women’s Contribution in the Household Economy”. European Academic Research (oct. 2014)

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidion, “Women and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. chathamhouse.org

Photo by Christina on Unsplash

 

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