Pandemic enhance to tech and digital industries worsens gender job divide

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The enhance given by the pandemic to the digital, automation and know-how industries is about to exacerbate gender inequality within the office, as the brand new jobs being created are being taken largely by males.

The pandemic is driving a shift in firms’ use of know-how, each official statistics and enterprise surveys counsel, making the automation and digitalisation industries a number of the few winners from this yr’s financial turbulence.

Almost 800,000 extra jobs have been created in laptop programming and associated companies throughout the EU, the US, the UK, Japan and Australia to date this yr, in response to an FT evaluation of official information. The variety of different tech-related skilled jobs in areas corresponding to data know-how and telecoms was additionally up in some nations, with males over-represented in each sectors.

That is in sharp distinction to the general jobs market — unemployment has risen in most main developed economies in latest months. The worst-hit areas of labor are low-paid jobs in swaths of the companies sector, which are likely to principally make use of girls.

Throughout the 34 OECD nations, girls usually tend to be in momentary jobs and in all the member nations for which information is on the market, girls are extra represented in low-paid jobs.

“The pandemic could also be contributing to a widening of the gender hole, together with the digital gender divide and the gender pay hole,” mentioned Mariagrazia Squicciarini from the OECD’s science know-how directorate.

Many of the jobs for which demand has accelerated for the reason that pandemic first hit require expertise which fewer girls have acquired via coaching and training, corresponding to these referring to IT, science and engineering, she mentioned.

Shauna Olney, chief of the Worldwide Labour Group’s gender, equality and variety department, warned that as a rising variety of nations file a recent uptick in coronavirus instances, “girls proceed to bear the brunt of the disaster”.

“For a lot of girls, Covid-19 threatens their jobs and livelihoods,” she mentioned. “Immediate and efficient measures are essential to mitigate the chance of decay of working circumstances and profession prospects.”

Tech jobs develop . . . 

EU: Complete jobs fell by 2.9 per cent within the second quarter in comparison with the identical interval final yr. Employment in laptop programming, consultancy and associated companies was up by 18 per cent.

Japan: Jobs in data and communication had been up 9 per cent in September in comparison with the identical month final yr, regardless of a fall in total employment.

US: Jobs in laptop system design and associated actions had been down in October in comparison with the identical month final yr. However the fall was lower than one-third the dimensions of the drop in total employment.

Australia: Employment within the three months to August fell three per cent, however the variety of employees in laptop system design and associated companies rose 11 per cent.

UK: The variety of data know-how and telecommunication professionals rose by a file quantity within the 12 months to June, drastically outperforming the general job market.

The ILO has referred to as on governments to focus on help for hard-hit sectors and occupations the place girls are over-represented, to gather gender-related statistics to tell restoration plans in addition to to design restoration packages that recognise unpaid care work.

Trudy Norris-Gray, who chairs Clever, a UK marketing campaign for larger range in science, know-how and drugs, mentioned tech job ads had been rising on account of “the amplification of technological transformation throughout this pandemic [that] is just not solely altering the best way we work, store, talk, educate but in addition the best way we’ve our behaviour analysed and are consequently knowledgeable”.

However, she mentioned, “extra males are filling these new openings than girls” and to vary this “we’d like all firms to speed up the drive for gender stability, particularly in know-how . . . as it’s central to all our lives” in addition to being one of many sectors with “the largest growths in jobs”.

…Whereas jobs in some service sectors shrink

UK: There have been 120,000 fewer gross sales assistant jobs within the yr to June in comparison with the identical interval final yr, the biggest fall ever recorded.

Japan: The variety of jobs in lodging, foods and drinks companies fell at an annual fee of 10.6 per cent in September, the biggest since information started till the pandemic.

EU: Almost 1.5m jobs had been misplaced in retail and lodging within the second quarter in comparison with the identical interval final yr, the biggest on file.

US: Employment in lodging and meals companies shrank 18 per cent in October in contrast with the identical month final yr, the biggest October annual fall since information started in 1990.

Australia: The variety of jobs in lodging and meals companies fell 15 per cent within the third quarter in comparison with the identical interval final yr, the biggest fall on file for that interval.

Bar chart of % of workers (2019) showing Women dominate in accommodation and food services jobs
Bar chart of % of workers earning less than two-thirds of median earnings (2019 or latest) showing Low pay affects women more than men

Jennifer Howard-Grenville, a professor on the College of Cambridge, mentioned that tech employees form items and companies as “algorithms should not impartial and replicate the unconscious assumptions of their builders”.

Nevertheless Ms Squicciarini famous that occupations associated to caring and medical and diagnostic help, through which girls make up a big proportion of employees, have additionally seen an increase in demand for employees.

Claudia Hupkau, assistant professor of economics at CUNEF (Madrid) and affiliate on the London Faculty of Economics’ centre for financial efficiency, mentioned the large hit to female-dominated sectors was mitigated by girls being “overrepresented in sectors which were outlined as essential to the Covid-19 response, corresponding to healthcare”.

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