Report calls for action to close digital gender gap

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Governments should set national digital strategies that actively aim to close the gender digital access,
adoption and usage gaps and improve the affordability of digital technologies while enhancing online safety, according to an OECD report.

A national digital strategy would a increase awareness of the digital gender divide, help address stereotypes, target existing gender biases in education curricula, encourage greater female enrolment in STEM studies and more generally, bridge the skills gender divide in the digital era, says the report.

It says G20 economies could consider steps such as establishing (time bound) targets for women in STEM; creating fund and grant schemes aimed at enhancing the enrolment of women in STEM education; establishing awards and prizes enhancing the visibility of women in STEM and in high-technology sectors; and implementing awareness campaigns tackling socio-cultural norms and biases and stereotypes.

The report also calls for improvements in labour market participation for women, especially mothers, for instance, by promoting greater equality in distribution of unpaid childcare and housework and targeted investment in lifelong training. It notes that those countries where more women work from home have the highest employment rates and it calls therefore for greater workplace flexibility.

The report also calls for the promotion of diversity in entrepreneurship and within teams of researchers and inventors through promoting a more gender balanced composition of financing institutions especially those receiving public funds, including venture capitalism; designing prizes and incentive schemes for companies and organisations actively implementing gender-neutral policies linked to measurable targets; and fostering networking and gender inclusion in entrepreneurial and innovative activities.

Another focus is on building OECD-wide data on the digital gender gap, including the publication of an annual Digital Gender Equality Report that is based on a common methodology and indicators and the periodical collection of data.

It says the Measurement Toolkit for the Digital Economy being prepared for the G20 Digital Economy Task
Force by the OECD in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other international organisations represents “a solid starting point” and adds: “Monitoring progress, benchmarking initiatives and identifying best practices and high-impact measures is critical for keeping the momentum behind efforts to close the digital gender divide.”



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