Louella Desiderio – The Philippine Star
August 27, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The rise in digital platforms is opening more labor opportunities, but disparities remain with women who are getting less complex jobs and lower wages and those in the countryside facing challenges in access to fast internet, according to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In a discussion paper titled DigitALL for Her: Futurecasting Platform Work for Women in Rural Philippines, authors Paul John Pena and Vince Eisen Yao said the Philippines has the potential to capitalize on the expansion of opportunities from digital platforms, but there are issues that may affect access including gender norms.
“Men and women have the same opportunities online, but cultural barriers lead women to lower-complexity and lower-waged jobs,” the authors said.
While work on digital platforms promised not to discriminate based on gender or nationality, the authors said a gender wage gap is seen to exist in digital jobs as they cited a report that showed women earn 18.4 percent less than men.
The PIDS study also said women and men were seen to have different areas of expertise in digital platform jobs, with women more likely to perform tasks related to business services or sales and marketing, but not tasks related to technology and data analytics.
There are expectations that women are more likely to be responsible for house work and care work, and such would compete with the time they spend on their careers.
Online jobs, however, can also be seen to offer an advantage for women due to the flexibility of being able to opt in or out depending on how much time they can devote to the entrepreneurial, freelancing job as opposed to full-time employment.
The PIDS study also said that while there are job opportunities available on digital platforms, these may not fit realities in the countryside where basic internet connectivity and access to appropriate devices are limited.
To take advantage of opportunities, the authors cited the need to level the playing field for women interested or engaged in platform work in the countryside.
Among the PIDS’ recommendations are for the new administration to reinvigorate the country’s mandate to embrace digital transformation and to ensure that infrastructure and capabilities roadmaps reach women in the countryside.
It said the government could explore diversifying public-private partnerships to address gaps in connectivity, device ownership, access to skills and technical knowledge, and community engagement.
The government may likewise consider the creation of a commission on lifelong learning that will harmonize efforts to equip Filipino adults with technical, “soft”, and leadership skills necessary to compete in the highly competitive and distributed digital economy.
The PIDS also recommended the implementation of a national awareness campaign led by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in collaboration with the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Trade and Industry, that levels the perception field, and breaks down gender stereotypes on the concept, mode, and place of work, especially for the countryside where gender norms are perceivably stronger.