Dr. Gordon Cooke


A new study takes an innovative look at the risk of workplace automation.

Applying an intersectional lens, Dr. Gordon Cooke and his co-authors identified the types of jobs and workers that are at higher risk of being automated.

The study, Automation and the Future of Work: An Intersectional Study of the Role of Human Capital, Income, Gender and Visible Minority Status was published in Economic and Industrial Democracy.

It was led by Dr. Bui Petersen (PhD’18), now with Saint Mary’s University. Additional co-authors include Dr. James Chowhan of York University, Dr. Ray Gosine of Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and Dr. Peter Warrian of the University of Toronto.

The researchers suspected, and confirmed, that intersecting categories of income, gender and visible minority status affected the automation risk faced by different population groups, and that education is the biggest mitigating factor to protect against it.

“We found that low income, high male representation and high visible minority representation are all associated with higher risk of an occupation being automated,” the co-authors wrote in the study.

Many of these types of jobs involve routine-focused manual labour with job-specific training rather than high levels of educational or experiential requirements.

The researchers found that experience had a modest affect on the risk across intersectional variables, while training wasn’t a significant mediator.

Conversely, female-dominated occupations, often characterized by service and care tasks, are at lower risk of automation, controlling for education or experience.