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Pandemic increase to tech and digital industries worsens gender job divide

The increase given by the pandemic to the digital, automation and know-how industries is ready to exacerbate gender inequality within the office, as the brand new jobs being created are being taken largely by males.

The pandemic is driving a shift in firms’ use of know-how, each official statistics and enterprise surveys recommend, making the automation and digitalisation industries a number of the few winners from this 12 months’s financial turbulence.

Nearly 800,000 further jobs have been created in pc programming and associated providers throughout the EU, the US, the UK, Japan and Australia to date this 12 months, in response to an FT evaluation of official knowledge. The variety of different tech-related skilled jobs in areas equivalent to data know-how and telecoms was additionally up in some nations, with males over-represented in each sectors.

This is in sharp distinction to the general jobs market — unemployment has risen in most main developed economies in latest months. The worst-hit areas of labor are low-paid jobs in swaths of the providers sector, which are inclined to largely make use of girls.

Across the 34 OECD nations, girls usually tend to be in short-term jobs and in all the member nations for which knowledge is offered, girls are extra represented in low-paid jobs.

“The pandemic may be contributing to a widening of the gender gap, including the digital gender divide and the gender pay gap,” mentioned Mariagrazia Squicciarini from the OECD’s science know-how directorate.

Most of the roles for which demand has accelerated for the reason that pandemic first hit require expertise which fewer girls have acquired by means of coaching and training, equivalent to these referring to IT, science and engineering, she mentioned.

Shauna Olney, chief of the International Labour Organization’s gender, equality and variety department, warned that as a rising variety of nations report a recent uptick in coronavirus instances, “women continue to bear the brunt of the crisis”.

“For many women, Covid-19 threatens their jobs and livelihoods,” she mentioned. “Prompt and effective measures are crucial to mitigate the risk of deterioration of working conditions and career prospects.”

Tech jobs develop . . . 

EU: Total jobs fell by 2.9 per cent within the second quarter in comparison with the identical interval final 12 months. Employment in pc programming, consultancy and associated providers was up by 18 per cent.

Japan: Jobs in data and communication had been up 9 per cent in September in comparison with the identical month final 12 months, regardless of a fall in general employment.

US: Jobs in pc system design and associated actions had been down in October in comparison with the identical month final 12 months. But the autumn was lower than one-third the dimensions of the drop in general employment.

Australia: Employment within the three months to August fell three per cent, however the variety of staff in pc system design and associated providers rose 11 per cent.

UK: The variety of data know-how and telecommunication professionals rose by a report quantity within the 12 months to June, vastly outperforming the general job market.

The ILO has called on governments to focus on assist for hard-hit sectors and occupations the place girls are over-represented, to gather gender-related statistics to tell restoration plans in addition to to design restoration packages that recognise unpaid care work.

Trudy Norris-Grey, who chairs Wise, a UK marketing campaign for higher variety in science, know-how and medication, mentioned tech job commercials had been growing on account of “the amplification of technological transformation during this pandemic [that] is not only changing the way we work, shop, communicate, educate but also the way we have our behaviour analysed and are consequently informed”.

But, she mentioned, “more men are filling these new openings than women” and to vary this “we need all companies to accelerate the drive for gender balance, especially in technology . . . as it is central to all our lives” in addition to being one of many sectors with “the biggest growths in jobs”.

…While jobs in some service sectors shrink

UK: There had been 120,000 fewer gross sales assistant jobs within the 12 months to June in comparison with the identical interval final 12 months, the most important fall ever recorded.

Japan: The variety of jobs in lodging, foods and drinks providers fell at an annual fee of 10.6 per cent in September, the most important since data started till the pandemic.

EU: Nearly 1.5m jobs had been misplaced in retail and lodging within the second quarter in comparison with the identical interval final 12 months, the most important on report.

US: Employment in lodging and meals providers shrank 18 per cent in October in contrast with the identical month final 12 months, the most important October annual fall since data started in 1990.

Australia: The variety of jobs in lodging and meals providers fell 15 per cent within the third quarter in comparison with the identical interval final 12 months, the most important fall on report for that interval.

Bar chart of % of workers (2019) showing Women dominate in accommodation  and food services jobs
Bar chart of % of workers earning less than two-thirds of median earnings (2019 or latest) showing Low pay affects women more than men

Jennifer Howard-Grenville, a professor on the University of Cambridge, mentioned that tech staff form items and providers as “algorithms are not neutral and reflect the unconscious assumptions of their developers”.

However Ms Squicciarini famous that occupations associated to caring and medical and diagnostic assist, wherein girls make up a big proportion of staff, have additionally seen an increase in demand for staff.

Claudia Hupkau, assistant professor of economics at CUNEF (Madrid) and affiliate on the London School of Economics’ centre for financial efficiency, mentioned the massive hit to female-dominated sectors was mitigated by girls being “overrepresented in sectors that have been defined as critical to the Covid-19 response, such as healthcare”.

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