As the business world embraces the wave of digital transformation currently taking place, one thing is clear: women are underrepresented in this exciting new era of technology.
While progress has been made in recent years in the road towards gender equality, the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) continue to display a visible gender gap. This increasingly apparent imbalance causes women to miss out on positions of leadership within these industries, thus excluding them from being able to contribute to the digital transformation revolution in the same capacity as their male counterparts.
Digital transformation needs more women, as the full potential of this wave of change can only be realized if women are also included in its conception and design. In addition, gender parity in the digital realm will lead to young women and girls being inspired to study STEM topics, more creative solutions, and improved gender equality across the board.
Despite making up half of the world’s 8-billion strong population, women are a minority in the field of STEM. According to UN Women, women consist only 33% of the workforce at 20 of the largest global technology companies. This disparity is exacerbated when we take leadership positions into account, as women hold a mere 25% of these influential roles.
In addition, if we examine sectors of STEM that contribute towards the digitization of our workspaces, we'll find that women occupy just 26% of professional roles in Data and Artificial Intelligence, and an even smaller 12% in Cloud Computing.
With so many women excluded from one of the fastest-growing sectors in today’s economy, it’s no doubt that gender parity won’t be reached in the digital field. For true equality to be achieved, and for digital transformation to reflect the needs and circumstances of all members of society, digital transformation requires more women.
Existing gender inequalities in STEM have already caused significant losses in revenue, as gender inequality in technology has already slashed a shocking $1 trillion off the GDP of low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, more women are needed in digital transformation to boost the potential profit of the technology industry. However, the benefits of making digital transformation a more diverse, welcoming space go beyond quantitative data such as profit.
Progress isn’t achieved overnight.”
Progress isn’t achieved overnight, as for more women to reach positions of leadership in digital transformation, young women and girls need to study STEM topics at school.
However, many young students will feel disillusioned by the lack of representation they see in high-profile positions and therefore are less likely to choose a career that doesn’t appear to welcome them with open arms.
If young women see STEM topics as a male-dominated space, outdated ideas that technical subjects aren’t for women will continue to perpetuate public opinion. In addition, the aforementioned lack of representation and visible female role models will discourage young women and girls from choosing to enter this field.
To inspire the next generation of female leaders and digital specialists, women already occupying vital roles in this field need to be granted greater visibility. By making changes today to shine a light on the female leaders of digital transformation, we can lay the foundations for a more equal tomorrow.
Organizations in the technology sector seeking to innovate more creative, pioneering solutions can also benefit from including a greater number of women in their teams.
If a team is comprised of a diverse group of people, they will be better equipped to create solutions that address the needs and pains of a wider share of society and connect with customers. As people from a variety of backgrounds are involved in brainstorming sessions and decision-making processes, more points of view and perspectives will be offered from the very beginning of a project.
In addition, diverse teams will be more likely to spot errors in their thought processes and identify where the needs of particular groups have been sidelined. These teams will also be able to use their contrasting experiences to think outside the box and avoid one-size-fits-all approaches that are unfortunately common in groups that only represent one sector of society. Furthermore, diversity in the workplace can increase employee morale which leads to better teamwork and enhanced productivity.
If more women are included in digital transformation, the technological innovations of the future will be more inclusive. However, if the digital gender gap continues to widen, the needs of half of the world’s population will slip through the cracks and the full potential of digital transformation won’t be realized.
Based on our current rate of change, full gender equality won’t be achieved for another 300 years. As we embark into an increasingly technological age, one way to reach gender equality sooner would be to ensure that more women are included in digital transformation. By attaining gender parity in the digital realm and inspiring more women and girls to choose careers in technology, we can pave the way to greater gender equality.