• Emma-Jane

Gender equality advances in tech could add a potential $12 trillion to the world economy

We are living in a digital revolution. Developments and opportunities are available globally, influencing individuals every day. So, why are women still being dismissed of industry opportunities?

Companies are beginning to realise the skills and opportunities that women can bring and are actively trying to recruit more women into this sector. Having access to digital technologies have benefitted women’s way of life globally. Young women are digital natives, brought up with the web and Internet. So why are there still fewer opportunities for women?

Dr Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum’s founder, says closing the gap will create more opportunity. “Achieving gender equality is obviously necessary for economic reasons. Only those economies (that) have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper. But even more important, gender equality is a matter of justice.”

Having access to these platforms give women opportunities to strive in the industry and everyday life. Internet distribution statistics globally show the clear correlation of a male-dominated industry. The global usage online creates further gender inequality for women in the industry, in both Western and developing societies. With a total of 44.9% of the world’s female population having online access, compared to a 50.9% male dominant industry, MGI “highlights that men’s greater access to these technologies risk women being left even further behind economically and socially.”

The opportunities for female empowerment that digitalisation offers allow for equal participation in all industries, which helps achieve the global goal of gender equality in the industry. Understanding these benefits gender equality has to offer to the industry clarifies the need for women in tech globally. Social attitudes towards women’s access to these technologies undermine all female participation in the industry. An unfair lack of the requisite skills to seize these opportunities have caused women in less-developed countries to lag behind men in education, science, math, engineering and technology.

Online magazine Harvard Business Review says the closing of the gender gap in internet usage globally creates more opportunities and encouragement for women across societies.

“If the makers of digital technologies can better focus on creating products and virtual environments where women feel more included, more women will use the industry’s products, which, in turn, create these multiplier effects across society.”

It’s important to reflect on the opportunities that these developments bring to us women. These developments help educate, especially individuals with fewer possibilities for education. It also simplifies their everyday life because the digital era brings them digital life. Underdeveloped communities are able to appreciate mobile and internet banking, online shopping, courses, jobs and applications since access to these technologies. Having access to these platforms improves the standard of living for women globally.

A 2017 article by online magazine ‘Mediated Culture’ discussed digital communication and gender stereotypes, highlighting how these presumed female gender traits only marginalize women in the society. “The increased visibility that new technology, such as social media, presents can be beneficial for women to earn a stronger position in society.” Hegemonic masculinity creates an ideal identification for society, constantly shaping women according to a patriarchal standard.

Giving women access to data allows educational benefits, something that was previously unavailable to women in developing countries. “Education is a key tool in empowering women and closing the gender gap, especially in third world countries. It can have potential negative impacts on third world countries, as it enables those without these platforms to see and follow those with, which can potentially create unachievable aspirations due to demographics and this, in turn, can be extremely negative.” Having access to these platforms improve the way of life for women but understanding the lack of access to these technologies influences this.

In 2017, UNICEF found that in India only 29% of all Internet users are female and girls in rural areas often face gender-based restrictions in their use of information and communications technologies. MGI indicates the potentials that come with achieving gender parity in digital and financial inclusion, for many South Asian and Southeast Asian countries. The opportunities that come with media developments allow individuals to discuss opinions and facts online, with minimal control. Due to the transparency of data now being available, the sharing of information when using online platforms can empower women on the inequalities in the industry, giving them opportunities to challenge this.

The access to technology globally highlights the inequalities in developing countries, so when considering the opportunity of social media used to mobilise large groups of women for protest, we can question which women are accessing this? And the issues being protested, who is this serving to empower? It is important to consider this when thinking about who social media actually works to serve.

HBR supports the positive impacts that digital technology can offer, in reducing a form of social, political and economic imbalance. A potential $12 trillion per year has been estimated by MGI. Gender equality advances in the industry could contribute to the world economy by 2025. The importance of equality and enabling women to seize opportunities in the industries are shaping our collective future. Having more diversity in the industry and leadership styles improves the quality of decision making. Although the development of these digital technologies has given opportunities to empower women, the process is ongoing and slow. Training opportunities and pay are still behind those available to men, but are on the increase.

The opportunities since the development in technology have given women a platform to take advantage of. In a male-dominated industry, women are beginning to take advantage of what is available to encourage gender equality.

*excerpt from my journalism project*

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