Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality

MarisaBluestone
Community Manager
Community Manager
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In Celebration of International Women’s Day, Macmillan Learning’s co-leads from our WOMEN@ML Employee Resource Group, Susan McLaughlin (Executive Development Manager, Humanities) and Heather Halter Kimball (Digital Solutions Team Lead), share their thoughts about the digital gender gap.

 

Did you know? 

  • Thirty-seven percent of women worldwide do not use the Internet
  • 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men, even though they account for nearly half the world's population
  • A global analysis of 133 AI systems across industries found that 44.2% demonstrate gender bias
  • A survey of women journalists from 125 countries found that 73% had suffered online violence in the course of their work

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For International Women’s Day 2023, the United Nations is recognizing and celebrating women and girls “who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.” The theme “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” focuses on “the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities,” while shining a light on the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces, and addressing online and information and communications technology (ICT) gender-based violence.

Now, more than ever before, women depend on technology to communicate with family and friends, to work, learn, shop, make a doctor’s appointment, pay a bill, buy a train ticket, and so much more. If women can’t access the Internet or don’t feel safe online, they can’t develop the necessary skills to engage in digital spaces. This affects all aspects of their lives, especially educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the UN, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM areas by 2050, highlighting the need to bring women into technology as a major priority. This will result in creative solutions and innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. 

The UN reports that the gender gap in digital access keeps women from unlocking their potential as well as technology’s potential. Underrepresentation of women in STEM education and careers continues to be a major barrier to participation in tech design and governance. Additionally, the threat of online gender-based violence without legal protection can force women out of the digital spaces they do occupy.  

The good news is that technology is providing opportunities for the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. From “gender-responsive digital learning to tech-facilitated sexual and reproductive healthcare, the digital age represents an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate all forms of disparity and inequality,” according to the UN. It’s a topic that’s important to WOMEN@ML, Macmillan Learning’s employee resource group for women, as their mission includes offering educational and volunteer opportunities for all women at the company and their allies to help them determine and reach their personal and professional goals. On International Women’s Day, the UN is calling on governments, activists and the private sector to “power on” in their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and more equitable.