Technology, a Key Driver to close Gender-gap at Workplace

Technology, a Key Driver to close Gender-gap at Workplace

by Shruthi Venkatesh November 26 2018, 2:37 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 35 secs

Technology is now a big part of our society and our foreseeable future. There is little room for people that wish to live without technology, and luckily, it is still advancing at a rate that has helped stave off stagnation. The World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development will meet for its twice-yearly meeting to discuss the World Bank Group (WBG)’s recent developments and initiatives to close key gaps between men and women, this year. The conference is set to be chaired by Kristalina Georgieva and comprising senior government representatives from client and donor countries of private sector and civil society. Earlier in 2018, the council undertook some key challenges in promoting gender equality.

Tech-related jobs remain male-dominated. (PCR)

Tech-related jobs remain male-dominated

This is an issue worldwide. In emerging markets, men are almost eight times more likely than women to work in information and communication technology (ICT) roles.

Women’s access to the internet and ownership of digital devicesremains significantly lower

In developing countries, the internet access gap is at 25%. Women in low- and middle-income countries are, on average, 10% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, translating into 184 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones.

The future of workis a source of anxiety 

Because of potential job losses as artificial intelligence and robotics change the nature of work. Early preparation is vital: retraining staff and reforming roles can mitigate negative effects, as can enhance soft skills like teamwork, empathy, creativity, problem-solving and a willingness to learn.

Across the world, women earn about half as much as men; this gender gap is only exacerbated in the informal market where, a male construction worker can make one and a half times more than his female counterpart. This is both a social concern and an economic one. There are significantly less women in the workforce as compared to men, especially in Bangladesh, India. Between 2003 and 2010, women's workforce participation barely increased: from about 27.5 percent to 37 percent of women were working as compared to 90 percent of men. Technology itself can offer opportunities for closing gaps: it can enable access to information and services help mitigate time and mobility constraints, establish financial identity, and create job opportunities in new sectors. Some of opportunities highlighted during the Council’s discussion were based on education, jobs, financial services, market and information, personal id and registration, etc.

There are also significant opportunities for employers from small firms to large enterprises to force technology to close the gender pay gap, ensure transparency for shareholders, while also nurturing high productivity to deliver on their bottom line. In Mozambique, the mobile platform Biscate is helping companies hire workers who have been vetted and rated based on their previous work experience. Companies can also advertise services, products, or job openings to workers while also assessing industry trends. There are more than 1,000 female workers on the platform that can access the same job opportunities as men.

Technology also plays an essential role in the sharing economy, which has potential to disrupt gender inequality.

At the nexus of tourism and technology, there could be opportunities - The Self-Employed Women’s Association’s partnership with Airbnb, aims to help rural women expand livelihood opportunities. Hosts acquire knowledge and hands-on hospitality experience, while generating income and employment opportunities for surrounding communities. On average, one host generates 12 - 15 employment opportunities, such as tourist guides, travel and transport service providers, interpreters, and local artisans.

Ride-hailing also has disruptive potential - IFC recently launched the report of Driving toward Equality which denotes Women, shedding light on how ride-hailing can impact their mobility, safety and labour force participation, often with positive results. It also shows that social norms can be a strong barrier against women drivers in many countries. 

The Advisory Council members stressed that the collection of sex-disaggregated data is crucial to help inform design of reforms, policies and projects in regard to technological development. There is an instinct that technology alone could not close gaps between men and women. The issue comes with certain risks which could not be recognized. We have the opportunity, and challenge, of using technology, coupled with effective programmes and adoption by employers, to close the gender gap in the workforce.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.