Gamify For Gender Parity

The pandemic has left women more vulnerable and dialed back much of the progress that had been made to bring in more women into the Indian workforce.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had a sweeping impact on all livelihoods, but for women the impact has been felt even more sharply. The pandemic has left women more vulnerable and dialed back much of the progress that had been made to bring in more women into the Indian workforce. In fact, a socio-economic impact assessment by UN Women has revealed that the women-led sectors have had the sharpest decline when compared with other sectors globally. In India, job losses for women due to the pandemic actually account for 23 per cent of overall job losses. Those numbers translate into millions of disrupted livelihoods as per a recent news report. It is evident then that gender parity is deeply correlated with economic growth and is an issue that India can no longer ignore with its sights clearly set on recovery. 

Women can work wonders for India’s growth

As per the McKinsey Global Institute, the global GDP could increase by 26 percent if the gaps between women and men in the workforce are closed. The report further elaborates that both advanced and developing countries stand to gain if the participation of women in the labor force matches that of men, they work the same number of hours as men, and find employment across sectors at the same levels as men. Even without reaching full parity, countries can grow in GDP by $12 trillion by striving to match up with the rate of parity with the fastest growing nation in their region.  India has a lot of catching up to do considering it ranks 145 out of 153 countries in the world when it comes to female labor force participation rates. Women account for just 19.9 per cent of India’s total labor force. The McKinsey report also states that India’s GDP stands to grow by $ 2.9 trillion (or $2,191 per person) by 2025 if gender parity in the workforce is accomplished. 

How gamification breaks down barriers to gender parity 

India’s barriers to gender parity are several; literacy, digital inclusion, social fabric, infrastructure, opportunity, protection. The increased internet penetration in India has fuelled the growth of technology adoption and has led to the now well adoption of ed-tech tools in light of the prolonged lockdowns due to the pandemic. An industry which was at the fringes at best prior to the pandemic has now become pivotal in India’s innovation roadmap. Ed-tech, through digital skilling solutions is discovering new ways to engage the huge addressable market India has. And one of the best modes of delivery the sector has discovered is combining the power of gamification with learning to deliver the best results. According to a meta-analysis in a study conducted by the University of Colorado Denver Business School ‘employees trained on video games learned more factual information, attained a higher skill level and retained information longer than workers who learned in less interactive environments.’

So, how can this proven method of learning break down gender parity barriers? 

Education: The gender gap sets in early as many Indian households with limited means don’t prioritize educating their girls. The limited literacy reduces the employability options of these women. Gamification has the ability to break down limited literacy barriers by turning learning concepts into games or bite-sized, digestible material. Vernacular content allows these women to comfortably learn skills in their own language, driving both comprehension and retention.      

Confidence: Indian women combat centuries-old patriarchal attitudes and regressive cultural norms. A lack of confidence is therefore natural from having been excluded from participating in economic and social affairs. Gamification addresses this obstacle wonderfully; it lowers the entry barrier, allows a candidate to imagine what a job is all about, it is immersive, interactive and engaging, it provides a safe environment to make mistakes and gain confidence, and rewards learning providing motivation and feel-good factor.  

Infrastructure: Women take on the lion’s share of unpaid care work. They also do 60 per cent more household work than men which leaves them no time to participate in the labor force. Infrastructure also needs to be built to allow better connectivity, safer transportation, flexible timings, safe sanitation to connect more women with skilling centers and the formal economy. Gamification offers solutions to counter the impeding effects of lack of social infrastructure. Digital learning aids provide accessibility to skill building without women having to step away from their binding chores. Their on-demand nature allows flexibility to women learn at their own pace and convenience.

Second career: Owing to maternity, child care or elder care, women who take a break from their careers often drop out in the best phases of their career trajectory. Re-starting their careers could mean starting at entry-level or with shrunk roles owing to technology advancements while they were out. This is one of the main reasons women are so under-represented in boardrooms. A World Bank study done in collaboration with the National Sample Survey Office states that about 20 million women in India quit their jobs during 2004-12, and close to 70 percent of them never returned to work. These women do not have the flexibility of time to attend classrooms trainings, and perhaps such trainings are not made available by their organizations. The resultant skill gap will diminish their scope of work and responsibility on return affecting their morale. But gamified re-skilling or up-skilling can solve for this challenge, allowing these women to catch-up at a preferred pace, with flexibility and be ready to pick up their job roles without facing career setbacks. 

Private sector a critical partner in the agenda

App based skilling platforms also allow for digital mainstreaming of India’s large informal sector. Working closely with government bodies like National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the industry bodies, allows these platforms to provide demand driven curriculums that deliver suitable livelihoods as an outcome. 

Women, especially in small towns and rural areas, don’t actively seek out jobs owing to the lack of support and resources. Informal references for suitable jobs also don’t reach them from the community. But digital platforms have the ability to intelligently match the skill-set and geo-location, and connect women with relevant job opportunities in preferred locations.

As things stand, bringing more women into the workforce and bridging the gender gap requires more emphasis and intervention from the private sector through focused measures towards:

- Expanding skills training for women in key sectors

- Ensuring gender diverse policies

- Improving infrastructure to address challenges of childcare, eldercare, safety and conveyance

- Addressing gender-stereotyping of roles and reshaping deep-seated biases and prejudices within the organizations

- Creating a talent pipeline at the entry level

- Cultivating a culture of equal opportunity and equal pay

India’s logistics sector has been amongst the first to accept women in new roles, thus becoming a role model for organizations striving towards accomplishing gender-agnostic hiring and a culture of diversity and inclusion. Per the Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-2018, of every one million employees in the sector, 67,000 are women. This is up from 40,000 in 2018. 

A 2015 NSDC report showed that India’s logistics, transportation, packaging and warehousing sector will generate close to 28.4 million jobs by 2022 and the percentage of women hires is steadily on the rise. 

Some of our running projects are CSR initiatives on our clients’ behalf which involve training rural women in roles like picking, packing, labeling using gamified content. These roles require accuracy and precision. As a matter of fact, logistics as an industry depends heavily on manual works making skilling imperative to reduce the scope for human error. Women organically have the ability to multitask with precision and accuracy. They also bring their natural gift for empathy making them very effective in customer-facing roles. 

A recent IMF research shows that women in the workforce introduce new skills and productivity levels that yield higher economic benefits than previously thought. Their talents, skills, unique perspectives and ideas bring economic growth that lead to higher wages for all. Hive, a productivity platform, anonymously surveyed 3000 working men and women for their State of the Workplace Report on gender. They found that even with a higher workload, women complete 10 percent more actions across workspaces. 

The increased internet adoption and advent of gamification models in the skill building industry are set to connect more women to the workforce. As more organizations recognize the benefit of gender parity in the workforce, the ecosystem will strengthen making the progress truly sustainable.    

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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