A recent PwC report found that the transition to net zero could widen the gender gap unless policies are put in place.
Ensuring equality for women in tech and in the wider workforce is becoming increasingly important, especially in light of recent setbacks.
According to PwC’s Women in Work Index 2022, the Covid-19 pandemic set back progress towards gender equality in work by at least two years across OECD countries.
The annual index measures economic empowerment of women across 33 OECD countries using five indicators; the gender pay gap, labour force participation, the gap between men and women in that participation, and the rates of women’s unemployment and full-time employment.
According to PwC, the decline in this year’s index was due to higher unemployment among women and a greater proportion of women than men leaving the labour market during the pandemic.
However, the index also highlighted another problem as it looked ahead to the new green jobs market and the transition to net zero. “There is a risk that women are left even further behind,” the report stated.
It pointed out that new jobs are being created in areas that are currently dominated by men, such as construction, manufacturing and utilities, and so men may be better placed to take advantage of new opportunities.
“If nothing is done to increase women’s representation in these green growth sectors, we estimate that the employment gap between men and women across the OECD will widen by 1.7 percentage points by 2030,” it added.
With this in mind, PwC’s Women in Tech initiative has been looking to raise awareness on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues through the lens of gender.
“We know that we have a challenge across society at the moment in terms of representation for females within STEM,” said David Lee, technology consulting partner at PwC Ireland.
“Our concern is, over the coming years, that’ll get more pronounced as the focus increases on ESG.”
Emily Kennedy, ESG consulting associate, added that without policy action, the net-zero transition will actually widen the gap between men and women in employment.
“What this means is that all of our efforts to decarbonise our economy and to build a greener world will actually deepen gender inequality,” she said.
“We will only achieve gender equality in work when we achieve gender equality in society, so business and governments really need to adopt a holistic and intersectional approach when designing policies and practices that put gender at the centre of climate action.”
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