Digitalization, Opportunities and Women

FEMME project found that the one of the main obstacles that future mumpreneurs facing is access to information which might sound surprising in the era of information society, so let’s take a look at it!

Information access is the ability to identify, retrieve, and use information effectively which nowadays mostly involve an online channel. It is essential as almost all jobs require a certain level of digital skills not to mention that a business cannot exist at least without a minimal technical background.

Only in reality a gap between the demand for skills and the actual digital skills of citizens in the EU remains. We can assess the situation based on the findings of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and generally say that most EU Member States made progress in connectivity and the availability of digital services that resulted in more users but according to the data from Eurostat in 2016 the gender gap among internet users in EU states were around 5% in favor to men.

The statistics are not extremely bad but they do not give any reason for satisfaction either: Hungary ranks 23rd out of the 28 EU Member States in DESI 2018. Almost half of the households (49%) has networks capable of providing at least 30 Mbps.

Comparison to the business world, in Hungary there was over 1,7 million registered business organization of which 1,2 million were self-employed and 0,5 million individual entrepreneur in 2018. Female entrepreneurs represent the third or the Hungarian entrepreneurs and at the same time surveys shows that in Hungary only 38% of businesses has some kind of online presence (from business listing to a web shop).

In connection to the workforce; previously predicted the opposite, it seems to be that digitalization doesn’t decrease the disadvantage of women not he labour market. On the contrary, flexible work or part-time work only reinforces the current roles.

Flexible working hours, part-time jobs telework etc., which are becoming more and more accessible as digitalization spreads, undoubtedly make it easier for women to enter and return to the labor market and benefit female workers more than one way; less work stress, less burnout, better health indicators. At the same time, it makes it difficult for flexible workers to switch off; the mobile phone and e-mail catches them around the clock, working hours are up to 24 hours and no frames are set if you have your own business, you’re responsible for your own time management.

It is an advantage for employees to decide when to work, but this usually means that they work much more and reduce the time spent on the family. In addition, flexible working hours are seen as a gift by employees and employers, so they feel that something has to be returned, and work even more. That “symptom” is even more typical among women hence mumpreneurs has to build an entirely new mindset when they start their own business.

For part-time work, which is in Hungary too mostly preferred by women, comes with a lower wage and then a smaller pension, the reason that most women are asking for shorter working hours and flexible work because of their family responsibilities. That means that basically they often agree to a lower salary to do more unpaid chores at home. Men, however, use flexible working hours to manage their careers and build up their businesses. So while the perception of the division of labor within the family doesn’t change, the labour market situation of Hungarian women can’t change significantly despite the opportunities of digitalization.


For more information:

Digital Economy Society Index

Women in Digital