According to a joint study by LinkedIn and World Economic Forum, women make up only 25% of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workforce. Only 22% of artificial intelligence (AI) professionals and 12% of machine-learning (ML) experts are women. The already under-represented group is also the worst affected by the pandemic. A Citigroup research report released last year predicted that 44 million could lose their jobs due to the pandemic-led economic tumult, of which 31 million could be women.. Despite the pandemic impacting women disproportionately, the world doesn’t have to end here. Mass digitalisation and improved upskilling opportunities can prove effective to raise the women workforce’s immunity against all odds.
Dawn of disruption
The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic left a severe impact on working women. Most of the administrative and clerical jobs, primarily served by women, are now being replaced by AI and ML-backed automation. On the flip side, the lockdown has given a lightning pace to digital disruption. Almost every business had to shift online, increasing their digital component. This paradigm shift has created a demand focused on skilled employees who are acquainted with these machines and technologies. Thereby, the way forward for both organisations and employees is upskilling of the existing talent.
In the post-lockdown era, digitalisation is the key to sustainability and businesses that are quick to adopt the latest technologies would potentially emerge leaders in their respective fields. The growth of such companies is heavily dependent on highly skilled employees. Therefore, to excel in this tech-driven business environment, there is an urgent need for women to dynamically upskill and reskill themselves. One can reap benefits such as better employability, improved collaborations between peers and senior managers, enhanced creativity and innovations, increased agility, and safeguard against redundancy. It is imperative for women employees, especially in the technology sector, to upskill themselves, aligning with the demands of an evolving job market to ensure a secure professional journey. Following the herd mentality can thrust one into the cul-de-sac, or a dead end.
Update with upskilling
Currently, the technologies in the digital landscape that are most in demand are artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics and blockchain. Relevant to their work domain, women professionals should strive to equip themselves with at least one of these technologies to quickly adapt to the changing needs of their organisation. Besides safeguarding against layoffs and furloughs, the value-addition of upskilling will also enable them to help their organisation in meeting market demands and providing great customer experience.Beyond this, while undergoing training/upskilling programmes, it’s possible that an individual comes across or conceives some unique ideas that can later evolve into successful projects. Indeed, employers generally encourage and support employees who are fast in taking initiatives.
Businesses that recognise the value of upskilling employees usually propagate a culture where managers enjoy coaching and juniors continuously learn from the knowledge and experience of their seniors. Hence, a culture of constant upskilling creates a win-win equation between a business and its people.
E-learning means easy learning
The emergence of e-learning platforms and easy access to industry experts through curated content have made upskilling easier than ever before. Such learning and development programmes are also relatively more accessible for women than the traditional training programmes. Being highly interactive, engaging, and scalable in nature, virtual learning is the best option for professionals to stay updated in today’s competitive market. Through these online upskilling programmes, women can also save their time and money, which was earlier spent on travelling and accommodation, and paying the exorbitant fees of professional coaches.
Upskilling is necessary to ensure career growth for women professionals in the technology sector. It enables them to keep pace with the advancements and changes in the rapidly-evolving tech industry. This is the most effective approach to stay relevant and updated with trends without quitting jobs or taking sabbaticals. And above all, upskilling is a powerful way of helping women ahead in both professional and social spheres.