Prof. Sorgner on the Impact of Digital Technologies and Gender Equality

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The Department of Economics and Social Sciences launched this academic year’s Research Talks series with a presentation by JCU Professor of Applied Data Analytics Alina Sorgner. Prof. Sorgner presented her current research on the impact of new digital technologies on gender equality in developing countries. This research is an invited contribution to the Industrial Development Report 2020, which is a biannual flagship publication of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). This year’s report, which will be dedicated to the future of industrialization, has one of its main focuses on achieving more gender equality in developing countries. In her talk, Prof. Sorgner emphasized that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) strongly affects subsectors of the manufacturing sector, which heavily rely on female workforce, such as textile manufacturing.

Alina Sorgner on Digital Technologies and Gender Equality

Prof. Alina Sorgner on Digital Technologies and Gender Equality

“We see how digital technologies significantly alter the way of production, making it more sustainable and less dangerous for human workers. A great example is 3D printing of sneakers out of recycled plastic that has been collected on beaches. This clearly demonstrates how the use of digital technologies can help protect the environment. The other side of the coin is that these technologies are often labor-saving, so that many workers might find themselves at a high risk of losing their jobs in the near future,” explained Prof. Sorgner.

Prof. Alina Sorgner presented empirical evidence on gender differences in skill endowments in selected developing and transition economies. Women in these countries seem to lack the skills that will be in demand in the future, such as digital skills, analytical skills, and interpersonal communication skills. She also emphasized that women in developing countries are more likely than men to occupy jobs that can be replaced by digital machines. “It is not clear, though, how long this process might take in the developing countries. This is because not everything that is technologically feasible is economically feasible or desirable by the society or its decision makers.”