The COVID-19 pandemic has hit people around the world, but a new report from the World Economic Forum suggests that women were one of the most affected gender groups.
WEF’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2021” found that the pandemic had pushed back gender equality by a generation. In particular, the report notes that as the COVID-19 pandemic advances, the gender gap between men and women in various occupations will now last 135.6 years, instead of the 99.5 years previously expected.
Gender equality in rapidly growing professions
Vesselina Ratcheva, director of new economy and society at the World Economic Forum, told Cointelegraph that the Global Gender Gap Report is now in its 15th year of developing gender gaps in four areas: economic empowerment and opportunity; Level of education; Health and survival; and political empowerment.
Ratcheva also noted that the report focuses on gender equality in rapidly growing occupations such as cloud computing, engineering, artificial intelligence, content production, people and culture, etc., as well as the types of skills required by each. “Of the eight different job clusters the report focuses on, only people, culture, and content production are currently equitable,” said Ratcheva.
While blockchain and crypto are not specifically mentioned in the report, Ratcheva stated that sectors such as cloud computing, data, artificial intelligence, engineering, and product development are likely to represent strongly both blockchain and digital asset professions. Because of this, Ratcheva noted that while women remain a minority in the blockchain sector, women’s participation appears to be higher compared to other areas:
“Between these sectors, women’s representation averages 29%, which can serve as an optimistic estimate of the level of women’s representation in blockchain and crypto. However, coordinated efforts are still needed to achieve gender equality.”
Gender equality after COVID-19
It is important to note that the “Global Gender Gap Report 2021 “was published one year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The report finds that the health emergency and associated economic downturn have hit women harder than men, opening up gaps that could have been closed earlier.
For example, the report found that women are now more likely than men to lose jobs. This comes from results from the International Labor Organization, which show that 5% of women have lost jobs since the pandemic started, compared with 3.9% of men. The report states:
“This is partly due to their disproportionate representation in sectors directly disrupted by lockdowns such as the consumer sector. US data also shows that women from historically disadvantaged races and ethnic groups are most affected. “
Saadia Zahidi, executive director of the World Economic Forum, added that the pandemic had affected gender equality in both the workplace and at home and hampered years of progress. “If we want a dynamic future economy, it is important that women are represented in tomorrow’s jobs,” she said.
Sue Duke, director of global public policy at LinkedIn, pointed out that women are still not well represented in most rapidly growing roles, creating greater gender equality challenges.
To combat these issues, Zahidi suggests that businesses and governments alike need to focus on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their recovery plans. “The assessment of the candidates with regard to their skills and potential, and not just their direct professional experience and formal qualifications, is of central importance. Skills-based attitudes are key if we are to make our economies and societies more inclusive, ”she noted.
To bridge the gender gap in fast-growing professions like blockchain and crypto, Ratcheva said a two-pronged approach was needed. She mentioned the importance of growing the pipeline of women in science, technology and engineering. At the same time, she noted that this growth should be supported by greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, especially in areas where women are underrepresented, adding:
“It is important to send a substantial signal to women looking to move into professions where they are underrepresented that there are mechanisms in place for them to thrive and progress.” Without such assurances, we ask women to irrationally invest in STEM skills. “
Despite the current challenges, it is encouraging to see a number of blockchain and crypto companies taking steps to ensure women’s participation. For example, Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, told Cointelegraph that one of the main drivers of increasing the impact of women on the blockchain, and especially in leadership roles, is education and representation.
Dixon stated that the Stellar Development Foundation is committed to educating women about the benefits of blockchain technology through frequent webinars and events. “With a strong female leadership team, SDF shows the importance of representing young women around the world in new technologies.”
Ratcheva also noted that it is positive that governments and corporations have found effective ways to ensure equity and motivation in employment, and that the majority of economic data shows that women graduate from education to the same extent as men.
With this in mind, Ratcheva believes that the technology sector stands ready to make profits in recruiting a greater proportion of women for management positions and notes that particular progress has been made in the representation of women in product development positions. However, Ratcheva recognizes that as companies and governments attempt to revitalize the economy, more gender equality restoration strategies need to be put in place to ensure that women can move into fast-growing, high-paying areas.
According to the report, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Lithuania are the countries that have made the greatest strides on this front. “The UAE has increased both the number of women elected to parliament and the proportion of women in leadership positions in business and politics. New Zealand has made progress on gender equality and women’s political empowerment, ”said Ratcheva.