Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
How digitalisation has levelled the playing field for gender equity

How digitalisation has levelled the playing field for gender equity

Manasa Denning, Senior Director of Solutions Engineering, North America & APAC, Integral Ad Science, shares how a shift in attitudes towards the traditional 9-6 setup, brought about by the acceleration of digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic is helping level the playing field for women at work.

Gender equity means equivalent and fair treatment for women and men in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities at work and in society.

McKinsey's latest report says advancing women’s equality in the countries of Asia Pacific could add US$4.5 trillion to their collective GDP annually in 2025, a 12% increase over a business-as-usual GDP trajectory. This additional GDP would be equivalent to adding an economy the combined size of Germany and Austria each year!

Despite a lot of research and reports indicating the socio-economic benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at workplaces and in societies, bridging the gap has remained a challenge.

COVID-19 changed that.

Last year saw unprecedented digital transformation that accelerated the digital economy by a decade or more. In a contactless world, the vast majority of interactions with customers and employees must take place virtually. With rare exceptions, operating digitally is the only way to stay in business through mandated shutdowns and restricted activity.

Accelerated digitisation has brought a shift in attitudes towards the traditional 9-6 setup. Work-from-home, online meetings, reduced commute, and flexible work arrangements have become mainstream work options in just a year- arrangements women in family situations had been wanting for decades.

Digital literacy and fluency have become a significant accelerator of gender equality in the workplace. Digital fluency is the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected, and effective, which is helping to close the gender gap and level the playing field for women at work.

World Economic Forum Gender Gap 2020 report suggests that it’s going to take a whopping 99.5 years to achieve gender parity globally. However, according to the recent Accenture report, if governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become frequent users of technology, we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed nations and by 2060 in developing nations.

I #ChooseToChallenge more women to join and successfully grow in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programmes. It makes business and economic sense as the world has moved towards rapid digitisation. It’s a go-digital or go-extinct mandate.

Digitisation is also the future for our defence and women across the world have made an enormous contribution to the global efforts to tackle COVID-19. Not only do women make up 70% of the world’s health workers and first responders, but women in STEM fields have also been leading research into the virus, creating trackers, and developing vaccines.

In Australia, the great thing is the government is supporting Women in STEM programs with the Women in STEM Ambassador. There are programs raising awareness among school students by working with teachers to create what she referred to as "STEM equitable classes" by removing biases and stereotypes and introducing more female role models in teaching material. There’s not going to be a quick fix but it’s become clearer that technology will pave the way for gender equity.

In my current role at IAS, I deal with technology integrations with ecosystem partners across multi-markets. The industry is moving towards rapid automation, using cutting-edge technology AI, Machine learning to create value.

The rapid technological transformation will open up a plethora of opportunities for women in STEM fields. I’m proud of our gender equity initiative at IAS. We have a population of 56% men and 44% women at all levels and we’ve challenged ourselves at IAS to reach a 50/50 ratio by the end of 2021!

Photo / 123RF

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