5G Write For Us – The 5G era: an opportunity to reduce the gender gap There is no doubt: to promote the 5G mobile connectivity network, the republics of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) must undertake great efforts that range from the deployment of digital infrastructure to policies and agreements that facilitate distribution by operators. But these are worth it since the practical changes that development and digital transformation bring could generate an increase of 1.2 points in GDP in Latin America. And they will allow the generation of new services and increase employment and exports.
And we also wonder if adopting this technology would be an opening to reduce the gender gap in the region.
With a more significant 5G network, the value chains of the software and computer services (SSI) sector would be expanded. There would be increased income and exports in the soccer, entertainment, streaming and video game industries. It would generate more opportunities and niches to win foreign markets. And it would produce a radical transformation in the health sector with the rise of telemedicine, telediagnosis and the proliferation of data-based solutions.
Expanding services with a greater demand for software development inside and outside the region will benefit the SSI sector in Brazil and Mexico, countries close to bidding for the spectrum, and eventually Argentina. In addition, it will produce a dizzying growth of services associated with data analytics and cybersecurity. And consequently, more jobs. The truth is that the SSI sector will be the basis of the digital transformation of all exportable services that will be created with the advent of the fifth-generation network.
5G as a tool to reduce the gender gap
A recent study coordinated by the Institute for the Totaling of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL) of the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB, the Gender Division and the Foro del Sur Foundation shows us that the labour insertion of women in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and in the health, entertainment and SSI sectors is affected by numerous barriers.
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There is low female employment in the SSI and entertainment sector, although there is higher participation in the health sector. This is due to barriers identified in 1) the unequal distribution of tasks in the home between men and women; 2) the role of motherhood and its compatibility with work responsibilities; 3) the greater self-demand that women have when applying for a job position; and 4) the stereotypes in certain occupations “for men” (product of the physical load that they demand, for example).
According to the report, career progression is not easy for women. These barriers prevent them from moving from low-paid occupations or reaching positions with greater hierarchical responsibility.
LAC countries must therefore promote gender equity through the arrival of 5G and prevent this technology from widening existing gaps.
How to ensure gender equity
Suppose they want to take advantage of 5G as a development platform oriented to the external market, inclusive and generating suitable employment. In that case, countries must include differential incentives for the incorporation of women, for example, from the public sector with the reduction of employer charges to hire women or minorities.
Governments must carry out vocational guidance policies with a gender perspective, designed with the private sector. They must be policies that break down gender biases around certain occupations, awaken vocations and achieve greater employability for women. And they need to reinforce training incentives in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Business and Mathematics), as well as in technologies and critical knowledge for developing services in the 5G era, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, development software and cybersecurity.
Choosing the career of the future is the first step. But there are also challenges regarding the permanence of women in these careers, revitalizing the figure of role models. Both at the university level and throughout their studies, many women suffer from the “false impostor syndrome”, which leads them not to believe they are capable and abandon trajectories that could have been disruptive. In this sense, it is essential to make more visible cases of women who have changed the history of science and computing.
Examples of good practices
Fortunately, there are already different types of projects in the region that seek to promote the participation of women in leadership positions, preparing them for the future. An example is the IDB’s Gender Parity Initiative, which aims to reduce the barriers that avert women from accessing employment opportunities under similar conditions. Another project is Women STEMpreneurs, from the WeXchange platform, which provides financial support and encourages women to take the entrepreneurial path. Moreover, along the same lines, the ConnectAmericas Entrepreneurial Women platform and it’s Growing Together in the Americas program are framed, which seeks to encourage women, entrepreneurs, to integrate their firms in foreign trade and regional value chains. These efforts, combined with the visibility and strengthening programs throughout women’s academic and professional trajectories, go in the right direction.
We are in time to prevent women from being displaced from exportable jobs to others oriented to the domestic market. Moreover, the insertion of women in the positions that will be promoted with 5G could be one of the tools that will contribute to greater equality between men and women. And thus achieve that the reduction of the gender imbalance is more than an illusion, an imperative conquest to feel proud and proud as a society.
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