In recent years, there’s been a growing movement to address gender equality and diversity in the workplace to improve opportunities across the sexes. However, while gender awareness and balance at work have been constantly improving, it seems there is still some way to go. Indeed, campaigners would claim that awareness isn’t enough and more deliberate action is required to achieve parity.
Unfortunately, statistics seem to back up this view and a recent study found that just 33 of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women – which, in real terms, means around 93% of the most powerful firms in the world are managed by men. Moreover, critics claim that the disparities between men and women at work remain bigger than ever in terms of advancement opportunities, pay, career development and the chance to hold positions of leadership.
Ways tech and software are helping narrow the gender divide
There’s little doubt that technology and software are starting to have a transformative effect on all areas of our lives – both from a personal and work perspective. As firms come to rely more and more on automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), many previously male-oriented positions are becoming more accessible to both sexes. For example, using tech, machinery and software to perform physically demanding roles can narrow the gender divide and open up a greater range of positions to women.
Most industry experts suggest we’re just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much tech is about to change our previous working practices. As machine learning and AI continue to improve in terms of sophistication and accuracy, it’s thought we are just in the very early stages of what’s been dubbed the Fourth Industrial revolution – a time when tech will increasingly integrate into our jobs to help firms work more productively.
This growing reliance on machines has the potential to remove many of the previous barriers to entry which women faced – more often than not, obstacles caused by the differences in physical strength between the sexes or jobs perceived as the sole domain of males. For example, some sectors have struggled more than others with gender equality in the past (e.g. engineering) and, while there are numerous examples of famous women in engineering, it has, until relatively recently, remained a largely male-dominated occupation. Improving tech and a greater awareness of the managerial and organizational strengths of women are slowly changing that perspective.
Today’s modern tech has the potential to go way further in identifying inconsistencies between the sexes and has the power to help isolate and address gender inequalities at work.
Using tech to study employee behavior
While machines are undoubtedly revolutionizing manufacturing and production, technology is also offering valuable insights into how a firm’s staff operates. For example, companies can now track and trace employee movements around the workplace to help identify any potential differences between the sexes. Perhaps more importantly, tracking can also help bosses see, in real-time, how their employees are using their office space, to show high-use areas where they might want to invest in more equipment etc (for example, meeting rooms). Tracking tech can also give a revealing view of which employees spend the most time with higher management, again potentially showing if there is any gender bias between the sexes within an organization.
The simplest tracking tech to employ is via door security systems to log entry and exit times from particular spaces within office or factory premises, although there is an increasing trend to use personal sensors.
How personal sensors can track behavior, interaction and gender differences
Despite the fact many employees are rather reticent to wear full-time tracking sensors, the technology already exists and is in use by an increasing number of larger firms globally. From a Human Resources (HR) and efficiency-management perspective, the advantages of personal sensors are indisputable – though it would be true to say many firms faced initial employee skepticism when first introducing them.
However, by monitoring staff in the workplace on an individual basis, HR teams and managers could accurately assess exactly how long their workforce was spending on particular tasks – in turn being able to isolate repetitive or mundane jobs that were eating up employee time. By studying this data in-depth, firms could increase productivity and also free up worker time. From a business perspective, this kind of understanding can greatly augment efficacy – but it also has advantages for employees too who could concentrate their time on more productive, enjoyable and added-value tasks.
Sensors are also great for revealing points of gender equality in the workplace and showing the potential differences between how males and females work, revealing which members of staff received the greatest support from superiors and even showing if there was a greater or lesser dominance by either sex in conversations.
There’s little doubt this type of tech will be used more and more by firms looking to understand their workers better – but it can also help narrow any potential gender bias in a firm, leading to greater equal opportunities.
Data gathering and analysis to evaluate productivity between the sexes
If sensors or door entry systems seem a little over the top to you (or you think your employees might feel they would constitute an infringement on their rights), there are many other ways you can evaluate the relative productivity of staff. AI email ‘readers’ are now commonplace to ascertain the effectiveness of in-office communication between staff while logging software and time-tracking apps are now also widely used to ascertain productivity.
By integrating time-trackers into your operations, you can effectively gauge worker output. As most bosses realize, time spent on a job does not necessarily translate into efficiency but by gathering data on employee throughput vs time spent, bosses and HR directors can accurately measure their staff’s competence.
The potential implications for knowledge on this scale are massive for both employers and employees. For example, if a company finds that certain workers are spending a disproportionate amount of time performing a task compared to their peers, they could reassign them to a different role or provide training to help them improve.
Likewise, time trackers can also be used to assess the differences between the genders, to allow managers to appoint the very best employee for each particular job based on their previous performance.
Technology in the workplace has come on leaps and bounds in the last 20 or so years and there’s no doubt it will continue to play a pivotal role in the firms of the future. By leveraging the considerable insights and knowledge offered by tech, firms will be able to streamline operations while offering improved gender equality and parity of opportunities between the sexes at work.