The digital landscape of Southeast Asia is rapidly evolving, and with it, so are the needs of workers and job seekers. But this transformation has not been equal: women in the region continue to lag behind in terms of access to education and professional opportunities.
To shed light on this disparity, Singapore-headquartered She Loves Data (SLD) conducted a consumer survey in collaboration with Milieu Insight.
The survey results were striking: 87% of women in the region are interested in taking courses to develop their professional and digital skills.
The majority of them (59%) want to upskill so they can do their jobs better. Other reasons include: making a career switch (43%), making good use of their free time (39%), and getting a pay raise (28%).
Women face more barriers to digital education
“As businesses across all industries embrace digital transformation, corporations and employers struggle to fill roles across all digital skills domains,” said Jana Marle-Zizkova, the co-founder and volunteering CEO at SLD. “We hope to narrow the digital competence gap. In the long run, SLD aims to provide a supportive professional network to develop a solid pipeline of women leaders who are ready to enter the C-suites and board rooms.”
A recent analysis by the University of Washington also further highlights that in Southeast Asia, “the digital divide between women and men is greater than ever.” Digital education and access to STEM opportunities are more restricted for women than men, and this gap could further widen with the shift of many industries toward digital technologies.
The study recommends several steps, from improving access to digital platforms and tools, to breaking gender stereotypes around STEM and digital skills. More importantly, the study stresses that the ‘gig economy’ needs to be designed in a way that takes into account gender power dynamics as well as roles in the home.
‘Innovation and technology for gender equality’
The UN’s International Women’s Day 2023, which took place on March 8, calls for action to ensure access to digital networks, platforms, and technologies for women in Southeast Asia and around the world.
This year’s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” is a reminder that greater digital access can open doors to collaboration, connection, and growth not just for women, but for their communities as well.
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