Moving towards gender equality is not only a moral and social issue; it is also important to future economic growth in the United Kingdom. And gender equality in work necessitates gender equality in society.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an economic recession that has severely changed the employment landscape. It’s led to an exacerbation of pre-existing inequalities which disproportionately impact women and those from other minority backgrounds. So it's now more paramount than ever that society and organisations push for diversity and inclusion.
The Woman’s Budget Group outlined in their research that the sectors with the most job losses due to Covid-19 were sectors where women are the majority of employees (1). They also found that the amount of BAME women workers has fallen by 17% over the pandemic, compared to just 1% for white women. As well as this, 46% of mothers made redundant during the past year said this was due to inadequate childcare.
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee carried out an inquiry into the gendered economic impact of coronavirus, which found that “existing gendered inequalities in the economy have been ignored and sometimes exacerbated by the pandemic policy response” (2).
So what is being done? The U.K. government recently announced that women’s economic empowerment would be a focus as the country enters a recovery phase post-pandemic (3). There will be a particular focus on supporting women launching new businesses, specifically in the tech sector, to try to incentivise more female entrepreneurs.
- Interventions to address unpaid childcare
To reduce the gender imbalance that exists within unpaid care. There needs to be more recognition of unpaid work, reducing the amount that women have to do and rebalancing it between men and women.
- Interventions to address digital and financial exclusion
With businesses digitising faster than ever, it’s paramount that the gender gap in digital inclusion is closed. Digital access may keep work away from millions of women. Gender stereotypes need to be addressed to improve women’s digital literacy and more funding needs to be put behind women-owned enterprises.
- Interventions to address attitudinal biases
Businesses, governments and stakeholders need to make a stand and change the entrenched attitudes about women that exist in society. Specific campaigns and male allies can help to drive this, but it will need commitment from all sides.
It’s time for us all to step up and make change happen. At Women of Silicon Roundabout we are passionate about advancing women’s equality in the tech sector and beyond. Find out more about our event now.