The digital transformations introduce major changes in society. In this paper, I will discuss the impacts of digital transformations. Then I’ll explore the required competencies and skills to face the changes introduced by the digital transformations and how women should adapt to these transformations.
The digital revolution is shaking up economic equilibrium and transforming uses as never achieved before. It affects digital business customers in their activities, value chains and organizations, as individuals in their daily lives and society in general, and in its rules and balances.
The digital transformations are a societal upheaval. We move from ownership to sharing, from individual control to pooling and from system to ecosystem where interaction plays an important role to produce and gather information.
Despite all these facilities, at the same time, we must rethink the society requirements, the equal opportunities and equality woman/man, the management of our data and the associated risks, and the generalization of the access to innovation benefits to all kind of populations.
One good news is that digital technologies may help to realize the gender equality. They offer a new means for women in society. First, digital tools can be used to free up more time, to conciliate work, family and private life. they help to improve education and allow access to various knowledge thanks to digital artefacts (such as on-line resources, MOOC etc.). Another important feature of digital tools is the speed-up and the generalization of knowledge beyond borders and continents.
Social networks at their turn propose the digital weapons of the new feminist wave (for example #MeToo). The social link takes benefit from faster communication and wide exchange of information; provides an opportunity for an opening to communication and expression and brings a window to other modes of social fairness.
Hence, the use of social media – if well used – would be useful for countering paternalistic strategies, some cultural prejudices and daily influence by giving strength to the links. This social networks constitute, today, a great chance for women to improve their condition and to enhance the gender equality.
To face the changes introduced by the digital transformations, several competencies and skills are required. They range from being a well-informed consumer to designer and producer of digital technologies.
At first level, towards the digital technologies, awareness and safety mode are recommended. Women has to not fall into the pitfalls of pure consumption i.e. they must be aware of the risks involved in using new technologies such as the violation of privacy or the manipulation of personal data, etc. Here, technical skills are needed to interact efficiently and safely with digital artefacts.
In the second level, women should be able to engage in business activities thanks to digital approach such as designing digital tools. Here, technical and strategical skills are needed to develop competitive tools in order to meet the challenges of digital society.
Finally, to be involved in digital innovation, disruptive mode is necessary. This means that women should develop high level skills in digital technology as well as to look for creative, innovative and disruptive attempts to build innovative digital tools.
Finally, women should engage in continuous and adaptive learning to stay up-to-date and to be able to understand trends and coming digital revolutions.
Women in digital sector: For several years, articles have been published regularly about sexism and women (in particular) in the digital sector. Media coverage has grown since the summer 2017, especially after the revelation of many women of Silicon Valley about sexism and harassment in companies. The main problems are the Geek culture (e.g. Troll culture) as can be found in this testimony by a young man (Marc, 25 years old): “It’s such a masculine culture that at first I did not think that girls could code. Seeing a geek girl, it was a unicorn for me.”
In France for instance, the numbers are disturbing: only 48% are active, 30 % in digital sector that including 16% developers and 12,4% CIO of start-ups. And yet, mixed teams register 16% growth than single-sex teams.
Another alarming sign is their decline in scientific training. The absence of women in the digital sector is reflected in the training courses for digital. In LMD cursus (Licence, Master, Ph.D) for instance, their was 28% of women in 2010 against 25% in 2015. While this sector is growing, women are less and less many to join these formations.
- 5% to 20% in computer science in Engineering schools
- Up to 20% in the « Grande École du Numérique»
A training sector and a sector largely masculine that promote certain behaviors. Indeed, the digital and its formations remain mostly male, which has consequences on forms of sociability.
To solve these problems; there is also a work of men education that is to be done, because the sexism is still very present in technological formations …” as said by Claire (22 years old– Kit against sexism). Mixity does not mechanically create equality, as Nicole Mosconi theorized: “Mixity is the principle of social life in a democracy and the necessary condition for true equality gender. The principle of school diversity necessarily follows. […] But the mix is not a sufficient principle, if it is not accompanied by a genuine equality policy”.
Carnegie Mellon University, for example, realized that there was 2 times more failure in women than in men, whereas it was not the capacities that were problematic. The girls reported a loss of motivation, resulting in a loss of interest: they did not felt in their place, which made them unmotivated, so they left. That’s why it takes to work on socialization, what this university did.
In France there as several initiatives to promote digital technology
among young women. We can cite “Excellencia Trophy” initiative organized by Syntec Numérique. It aims to promote digital technology among young women, encourage access to digital sector, to combat the stereotypes and promote the attractiveness of the digital professions, to everyone. Eight students were rewarded this year: each partner institution offered a grant. Each one also benefits from a personalized coaching session, an interesting accompaniment to reflect on the orientation given to his studies and to concretize his professional project.
At Sorbonne University, we have specific programs of “Marrainage” for women students. Each of them benefits from a personalized coaching session, an interesting accompaniment to reflect on the orientation given to his studies and to concretize his professional project.
To conclude, the progress of women access to digital world is an evidence today. But there is still lot of work to do in education both for men and women.