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The Role of Mobile Technology in the Quest for Gender Equality

This week saw the launch by the French Government of a new app for women, named “Leadership For Women.” As debate raged in Congress over equal pay for women in the US, the timing of the release of this app is of particular interest for us here in this tech-oriented enclave as it seeks to provide a solution – or at least aid – to a problem that persists across the globe.

The press material accompanying the release of the app (or charmingly, ‘appli’ as apps are called in French) calls it an ‘accelerator for change.’ When you first open the app, you are taken through a series of short self-diagnostic quizzes to help determine which areas are of particular challenge for you. The four main areas covered are leadership, boosting your career, networking and being proactive – all topics close to my heart. The results of these mini-quizzes then drive the information and guidance provided to the user. There is also a salary calculator and multiple training videos and testimonials to keep the user on track and boost confidence.

As in the US, there is still a significant disparity between the salaries of men and women. According to the French Ministry for Women’s Rights, men are 9 times more likely to ask for a raise than women. Similarly in the US, a report from the Harvard Business Review finds the percentage of women who try to negotiate a higher salary is just 7%, versus 57% for men. In Canada the same story applies. According to the Canadian Pay Equality Commission, statisticians estimate that as much as 10 to 15 % of the gender wage gap is due to discrimination.

The French government believes a lack of self-confidence is at the heart of the problem and an unwillingness to speak up. The app coaches users with practical advice while providing lots of words of encouragement to help resolve this. What is interesting here is that there are hundreds – if not thousands – of apps available for all mobile technology platforms for boosting self-confidence but instead of counseling the women of France to find their own online resources, the Ministry created its own specific solution.

I have written before about the growth of health apps for self-diagnosis and better fitness and health self-management and this app seems to me to fall into in that territory. I also believe this “Leadership For Women” app could help spawn more like it on a national, corporate or even small business scale – highly targeted apps that are essentially agents for change. One particular idea that comes to mind is for large corporations who are looking to bring a whole workforce on board with a new sustainability initiative and want to find an effective means of communication could use an app to do just that. The opportunities abound! It seems that the launch of the “Leadership for Women” app has started the conversation in more ways than one.

For information on how to shape your mobile strategy, please feel free to contact me.  The next big idea is just around the corner.

 

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