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  • Katica Roy

Engineering Equity Into The Future Of Work

Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)

If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.

The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.

  • Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.

  • Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.

Be Brave™

Curious about something? ​Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of this series.


Will Women Get Left Behind In The Future Of Work?

I recently returned from SXSW where I presented my research on equitable skilling. I answered the question, how can we ensure everyone has access to the future of work, especially on the heels of a pandemic that wiped out decades of progress toward gender equity? Here’s a taste of what I talked about in Austin.

1.1 MILLION WOMEN are still missing from the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic (as of the February 2022 jobs report). By comparison, there are 445,00 more men in the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic.

Here’s another way to think about it: women make up 100% of the population that has left the labor force since the start of the pandemic.

Now, let’s look at these numbers in the context of today’s labor market. We have a 5.03 million person gap between the number of jobs open and the number of people looking for work. If we bring those 1.1 million women back into the labor force, we can close the 5.03 million person gap by 22%.

So now the question is, how? How can we bring those women back into the workforce? I propose the following.

Two Recommendations To Bring Women Back Into The Workforce

1. Build workplaces that are equitable by default

Women want equity of opportunity. They want to be paid equitable wages. They want to receive equitable performance reviews and not be arbitrarily labeled as “too abrasive.” (If you want more information about embedding equity into all aspects of your workplace, read this.)

2. Invest in equitable skilling

Digital acceleration will (if it hasn’t already) render women’s pre-pandemic positions obsolete. In early 2020, we catapulted five years forward in digital adoption all in a span of eight weeks. The jobs with the highest risk of automation are the jobs where lower and middle-income women are overrepresented, whereas the jobs of the future are the jobs where women are underrepresented.

We need to deploy targeted skilling initiatives to ensure half the talent base, women, have access to the future of work.

Case in point:

  • Women hold fewer than 33% of all data and AI roles.

  • Women represent less than 25% of the talent base in many emerging professions, including AI specialists, back-end developers, and DevOps engineers.

  • Women make up only 14.2% of the talent base in cloud computing.

We need to deploy targeted skilling initiatives to ensure half the talent base, women, have access to the future of work. Doing so can not only spur a more inclusive recovery and equitable economy but also mitigate the looming issue of bias in AI.

For more coverage on gender equity in the future of work, access my 2022 Gender Retrospective report and read this article for Fortune.

© 2022 Katica Roy™, Inc.


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