Digitalization and Industry 4.0 can create opportunities to narrow the gender gap and are particularly relevant in the context of tackling women’s economic empowerment around the globe especially in New Normal times. If properly educated in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and equipped with digital tools at an early age, girls and women may “leapfrog” gender gaps, participate and secure the benefits of economic growth and social inclusion in the 21th century.
Today’s world is facing numerous fundamental changes. It is transforming and accelerating under the impetus of Corona virus, growing demand for energy, water and food, urbanization and mobility, and the need for new technologies to improve people’s work and life. Digitalization and Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and Big Data are driving globalization beyond borders and have a vast potential to boost economic growth and social inclusion.
Automated processes and robots are taking over labour-intensive and repetitive tasks and safeguarding the more intelligent jobs for humans, which is obviously more convenient. In this context, there is a tremendous window of opportunity for well-educated women in the field of technical and engineering disciplines. Industry 4.0 enables new customer values, e.g. through product customization as opposed to mass production. This increases data generation and thus the need for data analysts, just to mention as an example one job profile that was non-existent a few years ago.
Opportunities for Women
Digitalization and Industry 4.0 might be considered as a movement whether it is on the personal, professional or society level, a movement which creates opportunities for women faster than ever before. Looking at different income groups, countries or regions, the big question is to which degree and how quick Digitalization and Industry 4.0 reach and effect the individual groups and leverage the potential of women’s inclusion.
The use of digital platforms provides women with a greater access to markets, knowledge and more flexible working arrangements. In addition to this, there is strong and growing empirical evidence suggesting that higher levels of gender equality are associated with positive outcomes in terms of income, economic growth and competitiveness. Companies with a greater gender equality in their workforce and top management are better able to attract and retain female talent, to motivate their female workers, to understand and respond to the needs of female customers, and to better address complex business problems by taking account of gender-informed viewpoints. Consequently, technical education and the economic empowerment of women can bring dramatic gains in human development and well-being for individuals, families and society.
About the author
Elfi Klumpp is Head of Partnership Development at Festo Didactic, a company providing equipment and solutions for technical education. She also volunteers as Ambassador for Education and Skills Development at Worlddidac, the global association of the education resources industry.