RESEARCH August 28, 2020

Women and the future of work in the United States


This report details the conversations, research questions, and policy proposals discussed during the “Women and Future of Work Convening” held in 2019 and compiled as a report in early 2020. The first section reviews the substance of the conversation among leading scholars and policy experts on what research reveals about the intersection between technology, labor, and gender, identifying risks and opportunities for new workplace tools to help achieve greater gender equity. Technology is already changing the way people find employment opportunities, are hired, supervised, trained, and treated at work. Using a gender lens to examine how these changes may impact the future U.S. labor market is essential to build more equitable, safe, and productive workplaces. In the second section of the report we turn to the convening discussion of policy solutions as the way forward for women and the future of work. Policies and labor regulations play a central role in shaping the way technology impacts workers, highlighting the need to incorporate workers’ input into the design and implementation of new workplace tools, expand rights and regulations that protect all workers from abuses facilitated by technology, and use innovation to create opportunities and better economic outcomes for women.

Download File
Women and the future of work in the United States

Key Takeaways

  • Because women and men are overrepresented and underrepresented in different types of work, analyses of the impact of automation on employment must consider how gender interacts with the U.S. occupational structure.
  • The gig economy creates new avenues for alternative work arrangements, but the lack of benefits and labor protections can leave many workers, especially women of color, unprotected in the face of health and security concerns, workplace abuses, and economic insecurity.
  • New online tools are changing the way workers are hired, monitored, and evaluated, raising concerns about employers’ abilities to breach employees’ privacy, make hiring and promotion decisions through algorithms that replicate gender and racial biases, and cut costs via labor-optimizing technology that can diminish job security.
  • Education and lifelong learning via the digital delivery of training and education can complement traditional learning methods and provide workers with greater opportunity when combined with a broad policy agenda to address underlying structural inequities and power imbalances.
  • Employers’ surveillance of workers and the information technologies available to do so more easily and stealthily can entrench power asymmetries between workers and employers, but technology can also increase labor’s power and foster gender equity by creating new opportunities to organize and train for highly demanded jobs.



Four graphs on U.S. occupational segregation by race, ethnicity, and gender

LaborInequality & Mobility

Gender wage inequality

LaborInequality & Mobility

Factsheet: How strong unions can restore workers’ bargaining power


How U.S. workers’ just-in-time schedules perpetuate racial and ethnic inequality

FamiliesInequality & MobilityLabor

How racial and gendered pay discrimination persists under monopsony in the United States

Coronavirus Recession

A feminist economic policy agenda in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quest for racial justice

Inequality & MobilityLabor
TOPICS: Gender, Pay Equity
Connect with us!

Explore the Equitable Growth network of experts around the country and get answers to today's most pressing questions!

Get in Touch