The first two discoveries at the earliest stage of human civilisation were how to make fire and farming than scavenging for sheer survival. Many small discoveries taken together produce a revolution. 
Scanning the evolution of human civilisation, scholars have identified three major revolutions which have made the world as we observe and experience now. 

These are :

  • Agricultural revolution 
  • Industrial revolution 
  • Information  (IT & Telekom) revolution. 

A fourth revolution is discernible in the radar screen, though its contours are still very much ambiguous. We have as yet not even a universality acceptable name. 

What we do know are the possible constituents. These are :

  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Advanced Robotics 
  • Nanotechnology. 

The most distinctive and disturbing aspect of this revolution as compared to the earlier ones is our inability to work out the possible directions of advancements,  their consequences. This has become more problematic because it raises complex ethical issues which earlier ones did not. 

The so-called fourth industrial revolution is expected to have highly disruptive impact on the labour market. The main reason is that the skills set required in the fourth revolution stage will be radically different. Jobs will require advanced university degree because monotonous routinised jobs will be taken over by different types of robots. 

One study shows 900 ,000 jobs will be lost  only   in the garments industry in the South East Asia. Globally it is estimated that about 5 million jobs will be lost by 2022 while only 2.1 million jobs will be created. 
It is quite clear that the coming revolution will certainly exacerbate the trend of job - less growth. While the productivity will certainly improve, the rising structural unemployment will provide a conducive environment for social tension. 
The job losses will not be either gender or sector neutral. Women stand to lose more than men. While four men will lose jobs for one job gained, the corresponding data are 20 losses for one new job created. 
There will also be adverse effects on income inequality. The new jobs will be in the high technology sectors while the losses would be in labour intensive ones. 

Unfortunately more women are working in the low skills  low paid jobs .
An interesting at the same time disturbing fact brought out by a recent study that while men and women are more or less at the same level at the time of enrollment, the share of women declines as a percentage of the total workforce at the mid-career level. 
Most cited reason is  work -life balance. But this hypothesis is increasingly being questioned. 

A Survey conducted recently has identified the following factors in order of importance :

  • lack of work -life balance 
  • unconscious bias among managers 
  • lack of qualified incoming talents 
  • women 's confidence, aspirations 
  • social pressure 
  • unclear career path 
  • lack talent, leadership quality 
  • parental leave. 

It seems that survey results predominantly reflect masculine bias. 
There is strong empirical data to support. 
In USA ,at the enrollment level,girls outnumber boys by about 30 per cent. 
Moreover, globally .more women hold higher educational degrees than men. Women begin their career well but after more than a decade or so leave and don't come back .Some of the reasons have already been cited above. 
Apart from gender equality and skewed income distribution, the fourth revolution will also create a huge shortage of people who have the required skills set. This hopefully will generate a more flexible visa regime for qualified people. The industry will be at the forefront of this demand, as was already seen in the context of H1  visa flip flops  in the USA. 

Contributed by Prof B.Bhattacharyya