Why we need more women in digital

I came across an interesting article this week that gave me the lightbulb moment to research this topic further: Could the digital revolution get more women into work? It highlights gender parity, which was the focal point for this year’s International Women’s Day, and explores the power of digital payments and digital financial services as a means to empower more women to join the working force and narrow the gender gap.

Because women are underrepresented in the workforce in most countries, they are a significant source of untapped talent. I came across a new research report by Accenture, that shows that digitally savvy women are helping to close the gender gap in the workplace. The study is based on digital fluency, the way people use digital technology to become more knowledgeable, connected, and effective. 

From the time I could talk, I can remember a constant playground battle to always measure up or be better than the boys: “whatever boys can do, we can do too / better.” Here I sit 20 years later and the battle wages on as I find myself on an even larger playground and men are still, by far, the dominant earners by household for all three generations. What I did find promising, was that 70% of  South African millennial and gen X women surveyed, aspire to be in leadership positions – this is an indication of the opportunities being afforded to girls/women and their realization that they have the potential to be more.

This data reflects the very reason / provides the motivation as to why we need more women in digital:

  • Countries with higher rates of digital fluency among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace.
  • Women in many countries are already better educated than men and attained higher levels of education than men in well over half of the countries that were studied.
  • 72% of women said that their employment opportunities increased when their digital fluency increased

The advances we have made globally are commendable, however, as we strive for gender parity, these numbers indicate that it is up to us to make this ideal a reality. We have to equip ourselves and put in the hard work, instead of waiting for companies to begin this transformation. Like myself, digital has created opportunities for women entrepreneurs. What has me excited is that 61% of women in developing countries would like to start a business in the next 5 years. This for me is girl power wrapped up into one big fist bump. Even though this statistic is amazing, developing countries need to provide basic internet infrastructure and have it readily available to those in disadvantaged communities, as low levels of digital fluency are hindering the progress of women.

Being involved in projects and campaigns that encourage and facilitate female empowerment has always been something dear to my heart. Earlier this week I announced that I would be launching the Nuecleo #womenindigital internship program, which is my #beboldforchange contribution. Being in a working environment dominated by men, and always feeling that I have to go above & beyond to be recognised for my work, became exhausting. This is my gift to the young girls of Johannesburg and furthermore South Africa. I believe change has to start with you and why not bring up our future leaders of tomorrow and provide them with opportunities that will pave their path to success.

One critical message we can all carry forward is that accelerated change is entirely possible. Let us change the industry’s perception, let us change our perception. Because women are strong and powerful and capable digital marketers. It would be nice to see more of them in leadership roles.

My five tips for women in digital / wanting to get into digital

1. Find an Inspirational Mentor

Adopting a mentor helps you gain confidence. They will guide you in making the right career choices and actively identify and pursue opportunities.

It is important to remember to treat your work as a career and not just as a job, you come to everyday.

2. Don’t Give Up

I am sure you have heard this one a thousand times, but one needs to repeat this mantra to themselves often -try new things and embrace failures. I recently heard an interview on the radio where the presenter asked a businessman what good decisions he made in order to become successful. He responded saying that he never made the right choice, he made mistakes and from that, he learnt to make good decisions.

Perseverance is the most important message that we can give to younger women. Because in the end, if you look at what makes people succeed, especially women, it’s about not giving up.

3. Use Your Diversity

Women have a unique power, insight and way of thinking and need to use this to their advantage. The strength women need to build on is their diversity – different ways of thinking and bringing new insights to the table. The market is craving change – Let’s be that change!

4. Be Unashamedly Confident

Have confidence in yourself – and when you have your moments of doubt, as everyone does, keep it behind closed doors. If you want something – be it a speaking slot, a specific client, or a raise at your agency – go after it. Do not wait for life to hand you things because you will be standing around with empty hands. And never, ever let someone else’s opinion of you or treatment of you determine your own self-worth or where you can go.

5. Never Stop Learning

I cannot stress the importance of this. I personally have had numerous attempts to pursue my next degree and it has fallen by the wayside because I get so busy with work and my own life. I know this is no excuse, as everyone is given the same 24hours in a day. What I have found does help, is reading industry articles daily to stay on top of this ever-evolving industry (because it changes A LOT!) and doing online courses, as it’s a lot easier to digest instead of me hiding under the staircase to study.

For more information regarding the #womenindigital internship program, visit our about page for more information.

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