The digital age has brought about unprecedented advancements in technology and has transformed the way we live and work.
However, it has also highlighted the gender gap that exists in education and innovation. Despite the progress made in recent years, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields and face unique challenges in accessing education and opportunities in the digital age.
To achieve gender equality and promote innovation in the digital age, it is essential to create a supportive environment that encourages women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields and provides them with the necessary skills and resources to succeed.
This can be achieved through a range of initiatives and strategies that address the root causes of gender inequality and empower women to participate in the digital revolution fully.
We asked our experts about ways to improve promoting gender equality in the digital age through innovation and education:
Jennifer Smith, CMO of Brightcove
Achieving equity takes a long-term commitment and this includes ensuring businesses have the right resources to support and connect their employees on the ongoing journey towards a more equal, accessible and inclusive world. In a hybrid environment, video can make a profound impact here. A July 2022 study commissioned by Brightcove reported that 76 percent of non-management professionals feel more connected with leadership through video communications.
Video is a great leveler too, no matter where you are geographically, what level you are or what device you are watching on — you’re connected in the same way, giving everyone equal footing. It provides a simple platform to lead conversations around diversity and inclusion, and to celebrate achievements.
In addition to sharing our stories of empowerment and demonstrating our dedication to supporting women in the workplace, businesses must also be sure to strive for more than just gender equality. We now need to find equity-based solutions that take into account employees’ diverse experiences and backgrounds – and organisations must adjust services and policies accordingly.
It’s never been more important to ensure that the right resources are in place to support the transition towards a more equal, accessible and inclusive world. Achieving equity takes a long-term commitment and it must be embraced at every stage of the employee journey and championed by every level of the business.
Anneli Blundell, gender diversity specialist and author of The Gender Penalty
“We can promote innovation and education to achieve gender equity in the digital age by involving the people who are most affected – typically women. When leadership teams, design teams, government groups or decision committees are made up of one gender (mostly men), and make decisions that affect all genders, they bring a limited perspective to the issue. If they have not deliberately consulted all genders affected by their decisions, they are at risk of entrenching the great gender equity divide.
“It may sound simple but there are still too many examples of products, services, equipment and tech that does not work for women, simply because women were not involved or consulted in the process. Case in point: I recently saw a picture of a beautiful, glass-filled office with a fully transparent staircase in it. As a woman who wears dresses I saw the problem immediately. How did this decision get through to completion without one person raising the obvious question? It is no different in the digital space where women face coded bias in algorithms with facial recognition software and speech recognition software coded without consideration for their voices and faces. Perhaps that’s the reason my car’s voice system listens to my husband and not me.”
Jeremy Hanger, General Manager at Megantic
“Narrowing the gender divide can be achieved in a variety of ways. However, mentorship offers a practical, hands-on solution that is fairly simple to institute. Mentorship paves the way to a more gender-equal future with guidance, support and opportunities, helping women advance in their digital careers and break down barriers to gender equity. At Megantic, we pride ourselves on investing in the next generation of female tech leaders through Megantic Mentors. More than helping to close the skills gap, Megantic Mentors, developed in partnership with Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, is exclusively female-focused. It’s actively supporting the advancement of women in an eCommerce ecosystem.
“Given its success, we’re currently exploring new ways to set up a similar program through our recent partnership with Deakin University, which aims to accelerate eCommerce growth. In this male-dominated field, it’s essential to make successful women visible to young women, providing them an example to follow and strive towards on their path to prosperity in STEM professions, regardless of any gender bias that may exist.”
Sandra Scott, Sales & Partnerships Director for New Zealand at Vistar Media
“Addressing the gender imbalance isn’t box-ticking; it’s crucial to the betterment of the industry. AdTech companies and industry leaders have a responsibility to keep their foot on the gas and maintain the momentum we have built. Business leaders need to continue to promote their publicly available learning platforms, invite women onto more conference panels, and continue to support flexible working environments that drive retention and career progression for women, in particular those with children or caregiver responsibilities.
“A cultural shift is coming with Gen Z entering the workforce, but it’s important for us, as an industry, to drive change now. In addressing the gender imbalance, it can lead to a stronger mix of diverse skill sets, and all the stats are there to show that it can lead to better problem solving and more innovation.”
Jacqui Bull, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder at Sidekicker
“To achieve gender equality, we must first embrace equity and recognise the biases against women and underrepresented groups.
“At Sidekicker, we believe in walking the talk and have taken steps to address equitable representation by starting from the top. Today, our leadership team has a 55% female representation. We hope the elevation of these women will spur others to follow suit, and while we’ve built a culture that welcomes and encourages diversity, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re constantly challenging gender stereotypes with a laser-like focus on breaking down the barriers to career progression for women in the workplace.
“There are myriad opportunities available in the tech and startup space that promote innovation and education, but ultimately, we believe it’s fundamentally important to ensure that women have a voice. This means they are empowered and have the full support of Sidekicker to fail fast on any project, expand their horizons with workplace training and embrace other tools and methods that deliver not just gender equality but gender equity.”
Olivia Salanitro, Senior Field Marketing Manager, APAC, Neo4j
“As a mother to a young daughter, I would like to see more girls take a greater interest in STEM subjects so they can enter fields like science and technology when they join the workforce, as women are highly underrepresented in these areas.
“To do so, we need to encourage young girls to take primary and high school STEM subjects so they can carry on an area of study at the tertiary level. We should provide opportunities to connect them with female mentors in STEM by pairing them with female industry STEM leaders through workshops and talks at school and industry events to cultivate an environment that will drive innovation and education in sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We also need to create a gender-neutral environment free of STEM stereotypes that supports girls to try, play and fail without judgement.
“Only then will we see a change in gender equity and equality for girls and women in technology.”
Suzanne Nieuwenhuizen, Customer Success Architect, APAC, Neo4j
“We need to change the way women see and use technology to achieve a better balance. Especially in a digital age, where there are so many opportunities to use emerging technologies to save time and solve our problems, it’s vital that more women can see themselves as creators and developers.
“For a long time, I saw myself as a user of technology – I had a laptop, a mobile phone, I used apps – it’s when we start to think ‘I have this problem and I can build an app to help solve it’ that we will be truly represented in technical fields.
“To achieve this, we have to motivate young women and pique their interest in STEM fields. Today, the interest gap starts as young as nine years of age, where male students outperform female students in NAPLAN numeracy tests. The gap gets wider in years 5, 7 and 9 progressively. By Year 12, less than 30% of female students enroll in ICT subjects which has a flow on effect on female representation in technical and engineering disciplines. We must show young girls and women that they can succeed and have a home in these fields. Interactive education programs with visible mentoring are key to equalising representation in technical fields.”
Emma Seymour, CFO at Deputy
“When discussing gender equality in the digital age, it’s important to work towards equality of opportunity for all. Companies giving everyone an equal chance of success regardless of background will be the ones to succeed.
“A diverse leadership team fosters inclusivity throughout the entire organisation and makes good business sense. A recent McKinsey report states companies with more than 30 per cent of women executives are more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranges from 10 to 30.
“With more women and people of diverse backgrounds in leadership roles, there will be a trickle-down effect of diversity across the ranks — because individuals see themselves reflected in the company’s leadership. Companies can also offer support such as paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements to embrace better work/life integration supporting gender equality.
“Ultimately, it is a businesses’ responsibility to lead with purpose and drive this change, which will attract more talent because employees want to work for a company reflecting its values.”
Annie Sheehan, ANZ Head at Project Management Institute
“Promoting innovation and education to achieve gender equality starts with recognising the value and impact of a diverse workforce. Statistically, women bring stronger collaboration skills to the workforce, which opens the door to more innovative and productive teams and improves employee satisfaction and organisational outcomes.
“To foster innovation and education, business leaders must identify imbalances in gender representation and make conscious efforts to ensure a diverse pipeline of talent is entering their workforce, particularly in male-dominated industries. Our research reveals that male project managers outnumber female project managers at a rate of 3:1. So there is a tremendous opportunity to bring more talent into a sector struggling to find it.
“Another must-do is ensuring equal opportunities for continuous learning and development are available. Why? Females we surveyed are less likely than men to have a formal project management certification, despite being more likely to have worked for organisations that leverage advanced technologies and agile approaches when managing projects. This experiential advantage is a missed opportunity for organisations as they move towards increased technology adoption.
“Amidst economic uncertainty and skills shortages, an organisational culture that celebrates diversity in individuals, ideas and experiences will lead the charge in the digital age.”
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