- Christine Cecil from JUMP Forum Brussels 2019
The digital age: a man’s world? How to on-board women in the revolution
Digital transformation is impacting us daily: in our work, in our purchase, in our children’s education, in the way we manage our personal lives. Technology, artificial intelligence and connectivity is revolutionising business, society and the economy. This represents a real opportunity for women, in the jobs created, in the leadership competencies required, in workplace flexibility and in digital innovation.
Yet women remain under-represented in this new world – be it in coding, in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) functions and in the management of the tech industry. Attracting and retaining female talent into these functions and industries is becoming a critical issue for all organisations as digital is transforming the jobs and skills of the future. Stereotypes and biases, discrimination and sexism, strongly present in these highly masculine areas, must be tackled.
Digital technology is being used to enhance employee productivity or customer experience; and new processes are built upon biases imbedded in the data. As a consequence, CV-screening tools screen out women. Female specificities are forgotten in innovations such as airbags or artificial hearts unconsciously designed by men for male needs. Difficult ethical decisions are made, such as privileging the life of a woman or child vs that of an elderly man for automated cars. Companies need to adopt an inclusive and human approach to ensure that artificial intelligence does not simply reinforce biases in talent or marketing decisions.
As workplace flexibility increases, workers are digitally overwhelmed. We need to learn to manage digital technology and not the other way around. It should liberate us from routine processes, so we can spend more time on the “feeling” work.
If women do not on-board the digital revolution, they risk being excluded from the tomorrow’s business world and gender inequalities could dramatically rise in the future. The issue of ensuring a gender-balanced workplace is one that all companies will need to address, whether they are in the tech sector or not. Companies cannot manage without 50% of the talent, it is a question of sustainability, growth and world balance. It is time to step up and build an inclusive digital economy & corporate culture that includes both women and men.