More data is required to contribute to a meaningful policy dialogue on gender inequality and provide a solid base for new perspectives

More data is required to contribute to a meaningful policy dialogue on gender inequality. Source: AFP

The crucial role of data in challenging gender inequality

Gender inequality is present across the economic landscape, and a lack of distinct data that has been disaggregated by the sexes is a big reason that gender inequality gaps are still prevalent, even in 2021.

Data from the World Bank shows that up to 80% of countries regularly produce sex-disaggregated statistics on mortality, labor force participation, education, and training. But less than one-third of countries disaggregate statistics by sex on informal employment, entrepreneurship such as the ownership and management of a small-to-medium business, and unpaid work, or collect data about violence against women. More and better data is required to contribute to a meaningful policy dialogue on gender equality and provide a solid evidence base for development policy.

But closing gender inequality data gaps goes beyond data collection. Greater efforts are also needed to make the existing country data more accessible to international policymakers and to development practitioners alike, to make lasting changes for future generations – and not just around the time of year that International Women’s Day rolls around.

“This year’s International Women’s Day focuses on #ChooseToChallenge – indeed, we must constantly push the boundaries and aspire towards a more equitable future for all,” muses Alexandra Roza, the vice president of Customer Solutions for Asia Pacific and Japan regions at Tableau Software. Tableau is a visual analytics firm under global enterprise technology giant, Salesforce.

And despite recent improvements, there is still a noticeable discrepancy between the genders in the workplace, and it is getting more pronounced even in forward-looking industries like the technology scene. “Despite progress in the field, there remains a lack of representation for women in ICT: accounting for just 35% of the cohort in Singapore universities, and 30% of the local Infocomm (information communications) workforce in 2019,” says Roza. They also do not have enough visibility in senior leadership or board level roles to support executive decision-making.”

At the heart of a lot of these gender inequality concerns are data. Or more accurately, the lack thereof of gender-specific data, which makes it oftentimes difficult to properly ascertain if situations are truly as lopsided as they sometimes appear.

More needs to be done to level the playing field. At Tableau, we believe that data can be harnessed as a powerful resource to challenge the status quo,” affirms Roza. “Data can reveal insights, ignite conversations, and drive change. It is important for us to leverage this asset on both personal and organizational levels to address inequities and empower women.”

But what pivotal role can data actually play when it comes to gender inequality in an enterprise setting? “For instance, data plays an important role to highlight gender leadership imbalance; around 70% of people believe men and women are paid equally, but the truth is that women still earn less than their male counterparts even in developed countries,” exclaims Tableau’s Roza, singling out how a lack of data transparency can affect both perceptions and decision-making.

“This is where data visualizations like the Economic Empowerment of Women, Gender Inequality and the number of women in CEO roles go a long way to change public perception and educate people about prevailing gender issues at the workplace.“