Women in Work Index 2020

The opportunities and challenges of the tech revolution



Everyone has a stake in ensuring women have equal opportunities in the world of work. The evidence is clear. Our Women in Work Index shows that improving female participation in work across the OECD could boost OECD GDP by US$6 trillion, while closing the gender pay gap could boost female earnings across the OECD by US$2 trillion.

The theme of this year’s report focuses on the opportunities and challenges that technology presents to women in the workplace. We explore how women have been able to take advantage of opportunities in the fast-growing tech sector. However, women are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to the disruptive impacts of technology and automation on their jobs.

Explore the key findings from the research below and find out more about what organisations can do to promote opportunities for women and improve female representation in tech. You can also explore the results in detail using our interactive data tool.

If you have any questions about our research, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The size of the prize

Key findings

Steps have been made towards advancing gender equality, but progress is slow

  • Iceland and Sweden retain their place as the top two performing OECD countries, with Slovenia occupying third place.
  • The UK’s position on the Index remained unchanged at 16th, but it continues to perform above the OECD average.
  • Since 2000, Luxembourg and Poland have made the largest improvements on the Index while France and Austria have experienced the greatest fall in the rankings over this period.
Which countries are making the most progress for women in work?
Top 3 UK regions for female economic empowerment

Opening up opportunities for women across the UK

  • The South West, Northern Ireland and Wales are the top performing UK regions in the regional index.
  • London and the West Midlands are at the bottom of the index due to poor female labour force participation and a high female unemployment rate.
  • Northern Ireland has improved from 4th place to 2nd due to the largest improvement of all regions in its female labour force participation rate, while London has fallen three places to 12th as a result of a widening gender pay gap and gender labour force participation gap.

The impact of technology on female employment

For women in the OECD, fewer jobs are expected to be lost due to technology than for men, but the gains from job creation are likely to be bigger for men than women.

Across the OECD, we expect there to be winners and losers from technology with the net impact on female employment varying for each country.

The health and social care and education sectors are expected to experience a net gain in female jobs owing to the effects of technology, around 3% and 6% respectively.

However, the number of jobs for female workers in the wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and other services sectors, could decline as a result of technology and automation. These sectors collectively account for 30% of female employment currently, and there could be a net loss of around 10-20% of these jobs.

The impact of technology on female employment
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector across the G7

Opportunities and challenges for women in tech

More women than ever before are choosing the fast-growing technology industry as a pathway to career success. However, women remain significantly under represented in the tech industry and face a number of challenges when entering, as well as staying in the tech sector.

According to our Women in Technology Index, which assesses the representation of women in the tech sector across the G7, the average female share of ICT graduates, technology industry employment and board positions in technology, media and telecommunications is below 30%, and the average technology gender pay gap is above the G7 average for all industries.

Governments, educators and employers all have a role to play in improving the position of women in work. In particular, technology organisations can take action to promote opportunities for women and improve female representation in tech. We explore some of the steps that organisations can take to unlock female potential in the technology industry below.

Select a territory and year to explore the data further
      Index score and rank
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      Index score
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      Gender pay gap
      Female boardroom representation
      Composition of female and male populations
      % of the total male or female working age population
      • Full time employment
      • Unemployment
      • Part-time employment
      • Outside labour force
      Closing the gender pay gap
      % increase for female earnings
      USD bn increase in female earnings
      GDP impacts of increasing female employment rates to Swedish levels
      % increase in GDP
      USD bn increase in GDP

      Unlocking female potential in the technology industry: Four practical steps for organisations to follow

      1. Develop the pipeline of female tech talent

      One of the key drivers of female under-representation in the tech industry is the lack of young women pursuing STEM subjects at school. Organisations can help by collaborating with educational institutions to educate and inspire pupils about technology careers.

      2. Attract women into the industry

      Recruiting more women into the technology industry is vital to improving female representation and challenging gender stereotypes. Organisations can help to achieve this by ensuring that branding and job descriptions are gender-neutral and that recruitment teams are gender-balanced.

      3. Foster an inclusive workplace culture

      Workplace inclusivity is essential to empower women in the existing workforce and also attract new female talent. Organisations can implement initiatives such as mentorship schemes and networking groups to support career planning and provide a forum for discussion.

      4. Provide opportunities for development

      One of the reasons for the lack of senior women in tech is the lack of leadership and development opportunities. One way organisations can address both the pipeline and progression of women is by focusing on training and education.

      Contact us

      Yong Jing  Teow

      Yong Jing Teow

      Economist, PwC United Kingdom

      Tel: +44 (0)7525 281974

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