Business meets technology
It is commonly said, that what a man can do, a woman can do more effectively therefore, to describe the fourth revolution is to describe the blurring lines between the physical, digital, and biological world.
The fourth industrial revolution is the fusion of intellectual advancement, robotics, quantum computing, and other technologies. In simple terms, it is the collective force behind many products and services that are fast becoming indispensable to modern life.
Hence, the fourth industrial revolution is creating transformative changes in the world we live in, including women and business.
Female power is becoming pronounced in the country’s economic development as women are beginning to realize self-development and self-actualization, consequently building solid economic prowess.
Now the question is, with the transformation of many industries and value chains, how much will women benefit?
According to a report by AliResearch from Alibaba Group and the China Women’s University, women entrepreneurs will get more opportunities and gain more potential in the digital era.
For instance, the economy now has a new set of economic relations that depend on the internet, data, and computation. All of which facilitate the development of follow-on technologies.
Impact of technology and digitalization on women
With the advent of technology and digitalization in the world, this will positively affect women as they will:
1. Choose their location for work-life balance and flexible working hours.
The future of work is flexibility and innovation. With this in play, women can use their time judiciously and take on more responsibilities.
For example, a mother of 3 kids that would usually pay extra charges for her kids to be catered for while she is at work can have the opportunity to work on a shift or scheduled hours and she is able to reduce the time spent outside.
2. Invest further in skills and long-term training
The flexibility digitalization brings to the workplace, and business is increasing the need to educate, train, and build new skills and capacities to face the modern world’s challenges.
In 2016, around 70% of CARE’s work in Asia-Pacific was implemented with or through partners doing their part to address poverty and bridge the digital divide in the process. One of these is the Bintang Muda project in Indonesia that builds the capacity of young women entrepreneurs to market their products online, via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. This included providing them with smartphones and training, as well as information on how to take photos and sell their products online. They have also learned how to develop attractive packaging to market their wares, generating a significant increase in income.
The question of digitization, youth, and equality is particularly pertinent for Asia. Nine of the 10 fastest growing megacities in the world are in Asia, and by 2020 almost half of South-East Asia’s population will be under 30.
This forum aims to connect tens of millions of new users to the internet around the world. Working with 50 partner organizations, the initiative will accelerate innovation, coordinate investment, strengthen policy environments and align development programming. As such initiatives are implemented, it will be particularly important to prioritize girls in this youth demographic.
3. Gain greater demand for some specific types of skills
Most jobs created between now and 2020 will have a technology component, and it is important that women understand the skills they will need to excel in them. This is an opportunity for women to create new career paths and differentiate themselves.
The new digital landscape will also provide female entrepreneurs with the flexibility to start businesses with a relatively small amount of investment, and to sell their products and services across the globe. Last August, eBay announced that it will have products from vendors across six African countries on its platform, an opportunity that didn’t exist before.
It isn’t easy to map out the exact skill sets that will be needed, especially in industries that haven’t been created yet, but we can assume that demand will increase for highly skilled labor. Women will need skills that enable them to work within technological systems and to fill gaps created by advancing technology.
Demand may also grow for jobs that machines cannot perform, jobs that rely on intrinsic human traits and abilities such as empathy, compassion, and cross-team collaboration, skills often attributed to women
Why do we need women in technology?
According to a Laotian proverb, “The voice of a poor man does not carry very far.” Neither does the voice of a poor woman. That is why we continue the struggle for women’s equal rights, especially the most disadvantaged. While we talk of the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution and the “digitization of everything”, we sometimes forget that many people are still struggling to move beyond the Second Industrial Revolution. The rights of women – roughly half the world’s population – to access the means to economic prosperity and the benefits of technology (as well as the protection from its dangers) will have a positive impact on the whole of society. Planning for success without planning for the rights of women is an unequal formula doomed to fail.
Hence to think women are not important in business and technology is to be short-sighted and not consider women’s impact that contributes to 85 percent of purchasing decisions in the world. This makes them the largest single economic force in the world. Women’s participation has also contributed to creativity and innovation in technology; hence, as members of the workforce, women can increase the countries’ GDP and economic growth.
Women are needed in technology because they would further contribute to the innovation and development of the economy which they would help to communicate to other generations.
This will provide new platforms for expression, new opportunities to defend rights and freedoms, thus creating a fair, equal, and inclusive society.
Today, women control about 80% of consumer purchases. A few years ago, Ford conducted a survey on what men and women wanted from their cars. Men looked at the exterior of the car, the horsepower, the engine speed and power, and the driver’s seat.
Several global studies show that companies that employ more senior women outperform their competitors in every major profitability metric. Who doesn’t want that? When we present executive committees with the data, it’s not about political correctness or diversity; it’s about the bottom line. These companies are improving their productivity and profitability by cultivating and keeping female talent.
The tools women need to navigate these changes are there. Worldwide, women generally have more degrees than men. They have more post-graduate degrees than men, more PhDs than men, and more law degrees than men. We are still behind on MBAs but we’re getting there.
Skills that women bring to the table, once called “soft skills”, are now recognized as profitable and important: the ability to understand what is going on based on someone’s body language; emotional intelligence; the ability to build consensus; to mentor people; and more/
Overcoming this challenge requires collaboration and participation by all sectors, including the government, the private sector, and civil society, it also requires an intensive effort of women to deliberately update their knowledge and skills in certain areas and fields.
There would also be a need for employers of labor to reform their mindset and also create opportunities for labor for women in areas and fields that have been majorly dominated by men.