The study examines the extent to which the genders are adapting to digitalization, takes into account causes and barriers to access and offers starting points for overcoming gender inequalities.
Differences in interest, skills and knowledge acquisition - across age limits
In terms of content, access, attitude/openness, competence, and diversity of use, women have lower values than men. Women both score lower when assessing their skills in operating individual applications such as office programs and knowledge of technical terms, but also when interested in digital topics or in acquiring knowledge. The differences are much more pronounced in the older generations than in the younger generations, but they are also visible in the 14- to 24-year-olds.
Different requirements in the digitized world of work
There are also structural differences in professional life: men work more often in the home office, they also see mobile work more often than women as an opportunity for a better reconciliation of work and private life. The example of office workplaces also shows that men working full-time are equipped with mobile devices far more frequently than women and have access to digital applications such as video conference systems. This structural inequality is exacerbated by the fact that nearly a third of full-time employees (30%) say they have no equipment or collaboration tools.
Hannes Schwaderer, President of Initiative D21, commented:
“Women and men must have the same opportunities to benefit from mobile work, i.e. flexibility in terms of space and time. Employers can promote this with the right equipment. We recommend evaluating the gender equality with mobile devices in your institutions and questioning the criteria for the award. Digital devices such as laptops and smartphones must be normal work tools, not a status symbol for certain positions in the job.”
As for structural causes within the digital gender gap, Prof. Barbara Schwarze, Chair of the Competence Center for technology diversity and equal opportunities, added:
“We need targeted digital empowerment of girls and women along the entire education chain. This is imperative because access to digital technology design is hampered by gender stereotypes and traditional role assignments. They are therefore also lacking in the corresponding training courses and courses in which basic skills for future occupations are imparted. In doing so, more diversity in the development teams for digital tools and applications brings more benefits for diverse social groups and more quality in the results.”
Impetus for gender equality in the digitized world
The experts derived the following recommendations for action.