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Reuters
Reuters

Work-from-home boosts gender parity

  • Female representation across industries rose during the lockdown
  • Globally, women hirings dipped when lockdowns were implemented

More Indian women entered the workforce during the pandemic-induced lockdown, bucking the global trend, attracted by the possibilities of working remotely and flexible hours.

Participation of women in India’s workforce rose to 37% as of July-end from 30% in April, according to LinkedIn’s labour market update for July.

India had imposed one of the harshest lockdowns in March in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the economy to a near standstill. The virus caseload has since topped the 6 million mark in the country, and fears about contracting infections have kept offices nearly empty.

Globally, women hirings dipped when lockdowns were implemented. The hiring of women in many developed countries followed a U-shaped trajectory in 2020, dipping in April before recovering in June and July, according to the labour market update.

With the exception of manufacturing, female representation across industries rose during the lockdown and continued to rise in subsequent months. One possible reason for this could be the support from live-in help and grandparents, as well as more flexible working hours with remote working, which has allowed more women to enter the workforce despite schools and childcare facilities being closed during the lockdown.

“In India, work from home (WFH) has boosted gender parity and emerged as a great equalizer in terms of gender diversity with an increase in female representation across key sectors. The lockdown, which promoted acceptance of the work from home concept supported by flexible work hours, has emerged as an opportunity for women to rebuild careers and start afresh," said Pei Ying Chua, Asia-Pacific lead economist, economic graph team at LinkedIn.

According to the report, gender parity has improved across many industries, with the exception of the manufacturing sector.

The increase in female representation was also more pronounced in industries that already had higher gender parity such as corporate services, education, healthcare, media and communications. It is possible that these industries are more family-friendly in terms of flexible hours and work arrangements.

Female representation grew 8 percentage points on average, in contrast with the 4 percentage points increase seen for industries that started out with lower gender parity such as consumer goods, finance, manufacturing and software.

The report also shows that hiring picked up by 25 percentage points by July-end from June. However, risks of a second-wave of infections still remain, and further recovery may be tempered by a weak economic outlook.

Those with digital skills, including those related to disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, have weathered the covid storm better as compared to those people having basic digital skills.

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