Who Cares About Gender Parity?

This is the opening paragraph of the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, just published:

Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. Developing and deploying one-half of the world’s available talent has a huge bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.

I live and work in Australia which is predicted to reach gender parity in 163 years’ time. Not in my lifetime nor my children’s and nor yours.

Women make up just 28.7% of Boards in Australia. Australia is second highest in the South Asia region, behind New Zealand who are top of the region with 30%. Significantly lagging compared to much of Western Europe, whose top 3 are France (43.4%), Iceland (43%) and Norway (42.1%). Notably, the UK sits one behind Australia at 27.2% and the USA quite far behind at 21.7%.

These numbers, among other leading indicators in the report, demonstrate just how much work there is to be done around the world, so for those who are bored of the topic, I’m sorry but hard luck, it’s not going away any time soon.

We’re now living in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which of course comes with all kinds of new and as yet unseen challenges for the future of work. The Economic World Forum says the report reveals that:

…the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles.
And of course, women have greater representation in roles that are being automated. Right now not enough women are entering technology professions and we’re not retaining the ones who do (data show women leave tech in droves because of cultural and systemic barriers that turn them off and prevent them from progressing their careers).

Globally, in cloud computing, just 12% of professionals are women. Similarly, in engineering and Data and AI, the numbers are 15% and 26% respectively.

Huge deficiencies in these skills already exist and with new roles in technology, we will need to address the skills for women, as 50% of our workforce, to represent the skills required for the emerging roles of the future.

In addition to the above, the burden of household and care duties is still significantly unbalanced around the world and continues to undermine women’s career opportunities.

There is no country where men spend the same amount of time on unpaid work as women. In countries where the ratio is lowest, it is still 2:1.
Therefore, the priority areas to focus on have to be;

  • improving diverse hiring
  • re-skilling women for emerging technology
  • creating truly inclusive work cultures
  • changing legislation and cultural/social attitudes towards the relative amount of time women spend on unpaid domestic work and care

So, in answer to the question posed in the title of this post; I care and I hope you do too. The whole world needs to care and get its collective head out of the sand to speed up gender parity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the emerging roles that come with it demand that every company be accountable, take action and come to the table to reduce the challenges we’re facing.

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Further reading

How to build a genuinely diverse and inclusive tech workforce without underestimating women’s abilities and potential.
By prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion, startups can tap into a multitude of benefits that will propel their success. Let’s explore.
Uncover the differences between traditional and progressive HR and how the latter is essential to build diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, especially on the verge of the fifth revolution.