New Accenture research shows that across developed and developing markets, digital fluency — or having the capabilities/competency needed to carry out internet-related functions — is the single most critical factor in closing the pay gap, because it increases the chances of more women getting paid work.

Digital fluency's potential impact is life-changing. Nearly 100 million women would be added to the paid workforce, with almost two trillion dollars of additional income, while cutting decades off the pay gap—all by 2030.

There's a long way to go:

  • Early adopters of new technology are overwhelmingly male at the undergrad level — 63% versus 45% female
  • When it comes to continuously learning important new digital skills, Accenture research shows that male undergraduates again outperform female undergrads, 53% to 44%
  • When it comes to undertaking specialist coding or computer courses, males are more likely to do so: 83% versus 68% for females

Why it matters: Accenture research shows that 84% of female undergrads believe the pay gap either doesn't exist or will close within 20 years — a sharp contrast to the reality of a gap that will exist for longer than a century without intervention. The message to young women, educators, employers and governments should be clear that digital fluency is vital, internet access is fundamental, and helping women make smart choices to obtain paid work is essential in closing the gender pay gap.

George Marcotte is the Managing Director and Go-to-Market Lead for Accenture Digital UK and Ireland.

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