Tech’s persistent gender gap is well documented, but it might surprise you to learn that the gulf transcends national wealth and development lines.
Around the world women are less likely to be employed in the technology sector and when they are they usually get paid less, according to ILOSTAT data. In almost every country, regardless of income level or development stage, women are under-represented in the information and communication sector, which includes IT.
Based on data available for 116 countries, women’s median share of employment in those positions is less than one third. Based on data from 75 countries, when women do get a digital job, they face a median gender pay gap of 21%, which is significantly larger than the 16% median gender pay gap for the overall economy.
The gap could be due in part to the differing roles taken by men and women in the sector. According to the ILO Global Wage Report 2018/19, when women enter the information and communications technologies (ICT) workplace, they tend to be concentrated in less well-paid occupations such as ICT project managers, rather than the better paid ICT software development positions. Furthermore, male-dominated occupations tend to have higher gender wage gaps, particularly when high skills are required.
The findings matter, not only because they expose gender inequality in a growing sector, but also because digital skills are in demand. Thousands of jobs are created each year and this skills shortage risks holding back economic expansion. Failing to bridge the skills gap will mean the G20 countries missing out on as much as $1.5 trillion in economic growth over the next 10 years, according to estimates from Accenture.
Involving everyone in digital society is a key plank of the United Nations’ work and ICT can help speed progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. As technology is embedded into more and more aspects of our lives, and the future of work evolves, demand for digital skills is likely to keep increasing. This highlights the need to get more women into the industry and paid more equally.