News

Digital technologies: an ally for gender equality?

04/12/2019

Did you know that only 17.5% of the tech workforce worldwide are women, and that they hold only 5% of leadership positions? As highlighted in the publication ‘I’d Blush If I Could’, this imbalance can have an impact on how gender inequalities and stereotypes are included in, and even reinforced by, digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. Yet, digital technologies have the potential to counter this effect, and support gender equality.

In this regard, on 28 November, UNESCO’s Director for Gender Equality, Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, participated in Amplified, the Hermes Investment Management podcast channel, to discuss a crucial issue for the present and the future: how technology can be leveraged to promote gender equality. Amplified is a podcast channel meant to discuss the key issues, challenges and trends shaping the investment landscape and covering various topics, including sustainable development.

In this episode, Ms Corat explained how digital skills are essential for people’s economic, social and political interests as well as for their physical and psychological safety, for example, by protecting them from cyber-harassment. According to a 2015 UNESCO report (Broadband Commission), 73% of women have been exposed to or experienced some form of violence online, with women aged 18-24 being at particular risk. Ms Corat noted that digital skills help protect against this as having a wide range of digital skills allows people, and women in particular, to protect themselves from cyber-harassment and sexual exploitation. She also highlighted how social media and online communications, despite the risks of abuse, can also be powerful tools to make women’s voices heard. The HarassMap application, the Hollaback! Online forum or hashtags such as #MyStealthyFreedom and #MeToo are good examples of this new trend.

”Digital skills could help transform our society for the better”, explained Ms Corat, “but only if they are not the preserve of a few: women and men from different backgrounds and with different experiences must be able to benefit from them. Currently, the digital skills gap is wider for older, less educated and poor women, and those coming from rural areas and developing countries.”

The podcast, co-hosted by Dr Christine Chow, is available here. It is also available on Apple podcasts, Android, Google Podcasts and Spotify.