The United Nations recently estimated that it will take another 100 years to close the gender pay gap, with the current global gap at 23%. It’s a sobering realisation, even with the growing prominence of International Women’s Day on our calendars.
The United Nations estimated this information after looking at the Global Gender Gap Index, which takes an in-depth look at the differences between men and women in health, education, economics and politics.
It’s not all bad, though. An overarching positive trend has been that of technology’s part to play in tackling inequality and empowering women.
The flexibility of remote working
One of the major factors is the societal pressures on women to be the primary caregivers. Historically, businesses have been less likely to hire mothers because of their negative perceptions. Managers were worried that women would have to leave the work early to pick up children, they were also reluctant to understand how women would deal with taking on added work alongside home pressures.
The rise of apps like SheWorks! is a great technological step forward. This app, and others like it, provides millions of women the opportunity to work on their own terms – potentially with a more flexible arrangement. It’s more possible than ever for women – and men, alike – to play by their own rules when it comes to their careers. That is largely down to the flexibility technology has afforded us.
Technology and learning
The lack of women in technology roles has been at the forefront of a lot of educational campaigns over the past year. As it stands, women hold just 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, this is a vicious circle. Without role models, young girls have little interest in the industry and instead opt to aspire to work elsewhere.
Technology is changing this landscape. Platforms like Girls Who Code and Kode With Klossy, run by international model, Karlie Kloss, offers young women the opportunity to learn with mentorship from women in technology.
Whilst people in the UK and in other developed countries are fighting to decrease the gender pay gap, there are women in other parts of the world fighting for very basic human rights.
Many technology companies are using the advances in this industry to tackle the challenges women in high-risk or developing countries are facing. UN Women have launched a number of initiatives to show women in undeveloped countries the importance of technology.
For many, they are simply not given the education on the importance of technology and so, end up not using it. UN women’s HeForShe campaign allowed women greater mobile phone access, scholarships to women in STEM fields, software and app coding experience and greater personal safety.
Safety and technology
It’s not just women in developing countries who rely on technology for personal safety. Zecure has seen the amount of women across the world accessing the app for personal safety on a day-to-day basis.
With the emergence of dating sites such as Tinder, there’s a greater need for Zecure, the personal safety app. Women can attend business meetings or go on dates, for example, with the knowledge that they can simply set a Meeting on the app and be protected whilst out and about.
The Meeting feature allows people to notify pre-determined emergency contacts of their location. For example, if a women had a date with somebody she hadn’t met before, she could set a timer on her Zecure app. If her emergency contact didn’t hear from her within the timeframe she set, it would send an alert to them to let them know she’s potentially not safe.
The app’s personal safety features don’t end there. If somebody is going on a trip or journey with somebody they don’t know, the app user can simply mark a start and an end point to their journey and set it to go. Emergency contacts will be notified when the journey begins and ends and also alerted if the user doesn’t arrive in the allotted time frame.
What does the future hold?
Whilst the stats don’t paint the most optimistic picture, we can take glimmers of hope from the technology industries collective desire to improve the outlook for women in technology. It’s not just to improve the outlook of women in technology, either. These technologies empower women to feel safer, gain further education and break age old stigmas. Technology has the ability to help millions of women across the world.
The UK economy would benefit an extra 2.6 billion each year if we increase the number of women working in tech, for example, this would combat the IT job shortage. There are plenty of statistics to show that there’s both space and reason for growth in this sector and that women can lead the way.
With the growth of apps aimed at women, spanning across sectors from personal safety to education, we hope to see a positive shift in gender equality within our industry, sooner than the suggested timeframe.