International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us at Digital Futures to both celebrate the significant impact that women make to our business, and to reflect on the persisting challenges for women in tech and the ways in which we can support one another to close the gender gap.
Alarmingly, at the current rate, it will take 257 years for the economic gender gap to close, meaning full parity will only happen by 2277 (Source: WEF 2020).
It is difficult to reflect on today’s challenges without putting them into the context of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that the impact of COVID-19 has widened the gender gap and women have been disproportionately impacted by risk to employment and the additional burden of care-giving roles and unpaid labour. The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education found that mothers were 47% more likely to have permanently lost their job or quit, and 14% were more likely to have been furloughed since the start of the crisis (2020).
However, the pandemic has offered the opportunity to make positive changes which, if adopted, can lead to long-term improvements to the gender balance in the workplace. The remote working environment has levelled the playing field for women as digital platforms are promoting inclusion and female empowerment. Thus, the pandemic has placed a greater emphasis on wellbeing, and the increased flexibility brought by the virtual environment has allowed us all to better manage our home-life commitments with our workload. It is important that we do not go back to the way things used to be – to do so will likely prevent inclusion.
Therefore, at Digital Futures we are committed to:
- Continued use of virtual environments for learning and collaboration
- Flexible hours to support the work-life balance for all our colleagues
- Equal pay for all the members of our cohorts going through the Academy
- Working with industry partners who also share our passion on diversity and inclusion.
We believe that these practices will enable us to continue to level the playing field and bring gender equality to the tech industry as we look to build the talent pipeline of the future.
One of the cornerstones of our culture at Digital Futures is collaboration and that transcends gender diversity, so it is important that we recognise the support and allyship we receive from our male colleagues. Together, we are Choosing to Challenge the gender stereotypes in tech by working to provide opportunity to all regardless of gender.