Stephanie Hallett
March 08, 2017 11:29 am

We know that, on average, women are paid about 80 cents for every man’s dollar. And for women of color, that gap widens even further — to 63 cents for African American women, and a startling 54 cents for Latinas. Researchers have estimated that it will take 100 years or more for the pay gap to close at the current rate, but a new report suggests it could happen sooner in the developed world — by 2040, to be precise.

According to data from Accenture, a consulting firm, the pay-gap solution is simple: Women must become more “digitally fluent” in order to achieve wage parity sooner than 2152, the year the American Association of University Women says the pay gap will close.

Accenture defines digital fluency as “the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective.” At the moment, about 76% of men and 72% of women around the world are considered digitally fluent, the researchers say. The report also found that “52% of men versus 45% of women say they’re continuously learning new digital skills,” a gap that’s hindering women’s growth at work. But, according to this research, if women are able to become more “digitally fluent,” current high school and college students could see equal pay in their working lifetime.

Sounds great, right? Well, we’re a little skeptical.

It’s all well and good to suggest women need to keep up with tech — everyone benefits from learning new skills, especially in the digital age — but there’s something missing from these findings.

While the report suggests that digital fluency increases women’s access to education and workplace advancement by opening up new opportunities and offering more flexible options, there’s a big elephant in the room that’s being ignored: In the United States, men in the halls of power have continuously blocked attempts to legislate pay equity, and without the law on our side, today’s working women can only dream of reaching parity.

Indeed, just last month, Utah Republican James Green, former vice chair of the Wasatch County Republican Party, argued against equal pay, saying it’s “bad for families and thus for all of society.” Added Green, “It’s a vicious cycle that only gets worse the more equality of pay is forced upon us. It’s a situation of well-meaning intentions, but negative unintended consequences.”

With opinions like that one running rampant across the nation, we think it’s going to take a lot more than tech skills to close the wage gap by 2040. But we’d be very happy if Accenture proved us wrong.

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