Is the Gender Gap Closing?

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Last year’s World Economic Forum 2016 Global Gender Gap Report predicted that it would take girls another 168 years to be completely equivalent with guys at work. To put it differently, if you wish to see global sex diversity become a reality, it’s up to you and me to make it happen.

We’re all responsible for this situation to some extent.  Obviously men have a vested interest to some extent, however it’s often women who ignore these situations too.  Too often if women are working in an environment which does not have a gender problem, then they ignore the issues.  However all it takes is a job change or perhaps a daughter entering the workplace to be directly impacted again.

It’s a surprising prediction, not least because businesses who are failing to play their part in supplying equal workplace opportunities are likely to be losing out considerably. In addition consider a prediction in McKinsey, which in a report claimed that if girls attained their full economic potential, international domestic product could increase by up to $28 trillion in 2025. Continued lack of accountability and direct action could prove to be incredibly pricey, and also the report  findings highlight just how much businesses stand to lose if it the issue endures. It’s definitely not something we may afford to wait for.

It’s time to turn optimistic support into recognisable action and make sex diversity a business critical requirement.   It’s an important topic across most of the developed world and certainly in Europe.  It’s interesting to see the perception of these issues in the media, for instance sign up for an Irish IP address like this and check out RTE in Ireland and you’ll certainly see a difference. There are difficult questions to answer, after all  what do these actions look like?

AI and the future of equal opportunity

Artificial intelligence is seen by some as an instrument that can bring forward this change.  AI can offer true equality in decision making processes involved in hiring staff for example, eliminating any gender bias in an instant.

In the event that you define it as artificial or artificial wisdom, we already know that AI is fast changing how we do business. In case of tackling gender diversity, AI is already being leveraged to recognize and learn from bias within routine tasks and documents such as the job descriptions used in the hiring process.

AI technology such as IBM Watson, renowned for its capacity to take outside data and use it to gain understanding and insights from mass quantities of unstructured data sets, may already be used to recognize the effect certain words used in job descriptions have on the sex of job applicants.  In some ways it’s simply taking away bias away from the process, much like an Indian company might buy a UK proxy to deter bias on a national basis.

Read more: Gender equality in the technology sector: it’s time to be bold

Employing AI technology, certain language has been shown to discourage applicants and heighten submissions of CVs. Terms such as “dominant” and “ninja” are discouraging to female applicants. The lesson learnt here is that putting more consideration into the terminology used when communicating to potential candidates may play a substantial part in attracting more female applicants to your organization, paving the way towards sex equivalence at work. A simple reversal of vocabulary may have a greater long-term effect on organizational culture, balance and functionality.

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