The gender pay gap is alive and well, but the advent of digital media is giving more women a leg up in the global economy, according to new research from Accenture, the management consulting firm.
A recently released study, "Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work," finds that digital fluency--or using digital tools both at home and at work--is playing a role in the fight against the gender gap. Nearly half (41 percent) of women surveyed said they used digital tools to work from home and get access to new job opportunities.
What's more, over 60 percent of women who are not currently employed noted that the opportunity to work from home--or having more flexible work hours--would help them to land steady employment.
"Women represent an untapped talent pool that can help fill the gap between the skills needed to stay competitive and the talent available," said Pierre Nanterme, the CEO of Accenture. "There is a clear opportunity for governments and businesses to collaborate on efforts that will empower more women with digital skills--and accelerate gender equality in the workforce."
Accenture surveyed 5,000 men and women across 31 countries, and also pulled secondary data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to determine and compare Internet usage rates across markets.
Significantly, the report found that if all countries doubled the pace of digital fluency among its populations, gender parity could be reached by 2040 in the developed world, and by 2060 in developing markets. In fact, it showed that 61 percent of women in the developing world--such as Kehinde Oni, a computer programmer based in Lagos, Nigeria--are aiming to start their own companies within the next five years.
Of course, not all markets are digitally equal, and even the best ones still have a ways to go. The report finds that the U.S. has the most digitally connected workforce, followed by the Netherlands and Australia. The least digitally connected markets are India and Indonesia, where women's progress is actually hindered by the lack of digital access.
Over time, web savvy could even help men and women to land the highest-paying jobs around. A new graduate in the San Francisco Bay Area with cloud computing experience, for instance, can earn as much as $125,000 a year, and up to $300,000 a year with five years of experience, according to new reports.