Technology and engineering suffer from a lower participation rate of women, holding back the pace at which these sectors can advance and their overall contribution to the economy. The OECD says that increasing women in the workforce overall would boost the area’s GDP by as much as 12% over the next fifteen years. Specifically, in the digital jobs market, studies from the European Commission show that if more women enter the sector in Europe, we’d get a 9 billion euro annual boost to the region.
GE is setting an aggressive goal to have 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020 and obtaining 50:50 representation for all our technical entry-level programs. The program will significantly increase the representation of women in its engineering, manufacturing, IT and product management roles - a strategy necessary to inject urgency into addressing ongoing gender imbalance in technical fields and fully transform into a digital industrial company.
But more will need to be done. Companies will need to ensure a level playing field, where women in tech and manufacturing have access to the same challenging assignments and the same career advancement opportunities as men. Companies, governments, and other organizations will need to work together to put the right system of incentives and support mechanisms in place to create right opportunities and balanced work environment that bring out the best in our technical workforce. The moral case for gender equality is clear. The economic case is equally obvious: In the digital industrial future, companies and countries that cannot close the gender gap, will not succeed.