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The great equaliser: Impact of digital on workplace gender gap

Research has found that Australia is the third most "digitally fluent" country in the world, but what does this mean for women - both in the job market and in the workplace? 

The impact of technology and connectivity on our personal and professional lives is both undeniable and remarkable.

Digital disruption is shaping the way workforces operate around the world, and distinct skill sets that suit the requirements of a connected future are very much in demand.

But what does this disruption mean for gender equality in the workplace?

A new research report from Accenture titled Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work  finds that women are using digital skills to gain an edge in preparing for work, finding work and advancing at work.

In fact, the report finds that "digital fluency" - the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more connected and effective - plays a key role in helping women achieve gender equality and level the playing field.

Where does Australia stand?

The research – that surveyed 4,900 men and women in 31 countries – finds that Australia is the third most “digitally fluent” country in the world, and no.1 on the list when it comes to education.

Interestingly, Australian women did much better than their male counterparts in using digital technologies to secure and improve educational opportunities.

Australia also ranks second (behind the United States) for digital’s influence on womens’ advancement at work.

While more men in Australia report using digital technologies to prepare for and find work (77 per cent compared to 71 per cent), women are better at leveraging it to find work.

More than 30 per cent of all survey respondents – men and women combined—agreed that digital enables them to work from home, 38 per cent said it provides a better balance between personal and professional lives and 41 per cent report digital has increased access to job opportunities.

However, while digital fluency is helping women forge ahead in their careers, its impact has not closed the gender gap - and importantly pay gap - among executives.

Men are still, by far, the dominant earners by household for all three generations.

However, this is likely to change as more millennial women and digital natives move into management roles.

“Women represent an untapped talent pool that can help fill the gap between the skills needed to stay competitive and the talent available,” says Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“There is a clear opportunity for governments and businesses to collaborate on efforts that will empower more women with digital skills – and accelerate gender equality in the workforce.”

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