Bridging the digital gender divide: Include, upskill, innovate
This report explores a range of factors that underpin the digital gender divide, bolsters the evidence base for policy making and provides policy directions for consideration by all G20 governments. It has been prepared by the OECD at the request of the Australian Government to support advancement of the 2017 G20 Roadmap for Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future, in particular its aim to support the equitable participation of women in the digital economy. It complements the initiative of the 2018 Argentinian G20 Presidency to share policies, actions and national practices that have had a significant and measurable impact in bridging the digital gender divide, while supporting Argentina’s mainstreaming of gender across the G20 agenda. The report finds that hurdles to access, affordability, lack of education as well as inherent biases and sociocultural norms curtail women and girls’ ability to benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital transformation. In addition, girls’ relatively lower educational enrolment in disciplines that would allow them to perform well in a digital world – such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as information and communication technologies – coupled with women’s and girls’ more limited use of digital tools could lead to widening gaps and greater inequality. Acting now to reverse these trends can pay off: the reports finds that greater inclusion of women in the digital economy and increased diversity bring value, both social and economic. For instance, inventions arising out of mixed teams are more economically valuable and have higher impact than those in which only men are involved. Co-ordinated policy action can help narrow the digital gender gap. This requires raising awareness and tackling gender stereotypes; enabling enhanced, safer and more affordable access to digital tools; and stronger cooperation across stakeholders to remove barriers to girls and women’s full participation in the digital world. Digital technologies provide new opportunities to make progress, but technological fixes cannot address the underlying structural problems that drive the digital gender divide. Concrete policy actions are needed to foster women’s and girls’ full participation and inclusion in the digital economy, while at the same time addressing stereotypes and social norms that lead to discrimination against women. The digital gender divide needs to be resolved. There is no reason for women to trail behind in the digital transformation. The cost of inaction is high and in the face of sluggish growth, ageing societies and increasing educational attainment of young women, the economic case for digital gender equality is clear. Bridging the gender divide, also in the digital world, can provide new sources of global economic growth, support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and help achieve the G20 goal of strong, sustainable and inclusive growth.