Digital Fluency Accelerates Global Gender Equality

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 19, 2016

Image Courtesy womanonline.co.za Digital fluency is helping to level the playing field between men and women at workplaces, the new research of Accenture states. According to Accenture research, “Getting to Equal: How Digital Is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work,” found that women are better at using digital skills to gain more education and to find work.

The research comes at a critical time, as companies and governments face a disparity between the skills they need to stay competitive and the talent available to them. Because women are underrepresented in the workplace in most countries, they are a significant source of untapped talent. According to WorkplaceTrends.com and Saba data, women comprise less than 40 percent of the global workforce today.

Accenture surveyed nearly 5,000 men and women in 31 countries, exploring their use of technology, including access to devices like smartphones and wireless wearable devices, and the frequency with which they use them. 

“If governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent, we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed nations and by 2060 in developing nations.

Digital has had a positive impact on the women’s education and employment opportunities” says the report. 

The study also examined differences between countries and found that nations with higher rates of digital fluency among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent Italy and Japan, have reasonable levels of digital fluency yet are not achieving the outcomes we would expect. In these cases cultural factors are another significant consideration.

The largest gaps between the digital fluency of men and women appear in Japan, Singapore, France, and Switzerland. There, increasing women’s fluency to the level of men’s will help drive equality in the workplace, though as indicated above, Japan has additional challenges to overcome, the report says. 

In a recent report, the World Economic Forum identified high skills instability across all job categories and acknowledged that most businesses currently face major recruitment challenges and talent shortages. In another report, from the Business Roundtable, 97 percent of CEOs said that the skills gap was a problem for their companies, with approximately 60 percent of job openings requiring basic digital or STEM literacy and 42 percent requiring advanced digital or STEM knowledge.

For women, recognizing the boost that digital can add to their lives and careers should be a call to action. The research found that men continue to use digital technologies more frequently than women and are more proactive in learning new digital skills. Knowing how much of a boost digital fluency can provide, women should continuously develop and grow their ability to use the latest technologies, whether by using social media to grow their business networks or by signing up for online courses, says the report.