The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people around the world, but a new report from the World Economic Forum suggests that women are one of the most affected gender groups.
WEFs “Global Gender Gap Report 2021 found that the pandemic has pushed back gender equality by an entire generation. Specifically, the report notes that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the gender gap between men and women in different occupational sectors will now take 135.6 years to close, instead of the previously expected 99.5 years.
Gender equality in fast-growing professions
Vesselina Ratcheva, leader of the new economy and society for the World Economic Forum, told Cointelegraph that the “Global Gender Gap Report” is now in its 15th year comparing the evolution of gender gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.
Ratcheva further noted that the report focuses on gender equality within high-growth professions – such as cloud computing, engineering, artificial intelligence, content production, people and culture, etc. – along with the types of skills required for each. “Of the eight distinct job clusters targeted by the report, only people and culture and content production currently equate gender equality,” said Ratcheva.
While blockchain and crypto are not specifically mentioned in the report, Ratcheva explained that industries such as cloud computing, data, artificial intelligence, engineering, and product development are likely to be a strong representation of both blockchain and digital asset professions. As such, Ratcheva noted that while it is clear that women remain a minority within the blockchain sector, there appears to be a higher level of female participation compared to other fields:
“Between these sectors, the representation of women is on average 29%, which can serve as an optimistic estimate of the level of representation of women in blockchain and crypto, but coordinated efforts are still needed to achieve gender equality.”
Achieving Gender Equality After COVID-19
It is important to point out that the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ”was published one year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The report notes that the health emergency and associated economic downturn have hit women more severely than men, re-creating gaps that could have been closed earlier.
For example, the report shows that women are now losing jobs faster than men findings of the International Labor Organization which shows that 5% of women have lost jobs, compared to 3.9% of men since the start of the pandemic. The report states:
“This is partly due to their disproportionate representation in sectors directly disrupted by lockdowns, such as the consumer sector. Data from the United States also indicates that women from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups are the hardest hit. “
Saadia Zahidi, general manager of the World Economic Forum, added that the pandemic has affected gender equality in both the workplace and at home, hampering years of progress. “If we want a dynamic future economy, it is vital that women are represented in the jobs of tomorrow,” she said.
Sue Duke, LinkedIn’s head of Global Public Policy, pointed out that women are still not well represented in most high-growth roles, leading to greater gender equality challenges.
To combat these issues, Zahidi suggests that both businesses and governments should focus on building diversity, equality and inclusion in their recovery plans. “Assessing candidates for their skills and potential, and not just their direct work experience and formal qualifications, is central to this. Skills-based recruitment is essential if we are to make our economies and societies more inclusive, ”she noted.
In terms of closing the gender equality gap in fast-growing professions, such as those related to blockchain and crypto, Ratcheva explained that a two-pronged approach is needed. She said it is critical to build the women’s pipeline of science, technology and engineering. At the same time, she noted that this growth should be supported by broader diversity, equality and inclusion in different workplaces, especially in areas where women are under-represented, and added:
“It is important to send a substantial signal to women who want to enter a profession where they will be underrepresented, that there are mechanisms in place to thrive and progress. Without such guarantees, we ask women to make an irrational investment in STEM skills. “
Despite the current challenges, it is encouraging to see that a number of blockchain and crypto companies are take steps to ensure women’s participationFor example, Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, told Cointelegraph that one of the most important factors for increasing the impact of women in blockchain, and specifically in leadership roles, is through education and representation.
Dixon explained that the Stellar Development Foundation aims to educate women about the benefits of blockchain technology through regular webinars and events. “By having a strong female leadership team, SDF demonstrates the importance of representation in emerging technologies for young women around the world.”
Ratcheva also noted that it is positive to see that governments and companies have found effective ways to ensure equality and meritocracy in the labor market, and noted that most economic data shows that women are achieving educational qualifications at the same rate as men.
With this in mind, Ratcheva believes that the technology sector is poised to turn a profit by hiring a higher proportion of women for senior management positions, noting that particularly progress has been made in the representation of women in product development positions. However, Ratcheva is aware that as businesses and governments seek to revive economies, more gender equality restoration strategies need to be implemented to ensure that women can move into high-growth, high-paying fields.
According to the report, the countries that have made most progress in this area are the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Lithuania. “The UAE posted gains in the number of women elected to parliament, as well as the proportion of women in corporate and public policy leadership positions. New Zealand has made progress on gender equality and political empowerment for women, ”said Ratcheva.