Jasiel Cárdenas
Startup Contributor

Technology Is an Ally in the Search for Gender Equity

By Jasiel Cardenas | Mon, 08/01/2022 - 12:00

Throughout history, women have worked under different circumstances and in various fields. During WWI, they were recruited for jobs left by the men who went to fight the war. From munitions factory workers to railway guards, women began to take over every position previously reserved for men. Despite their success, when the men returned, they wanted their jobs back. After all, they were considered the family providers and marriage bars were still active in some sectors. 

However, WWII reawakened the urgency for a strong workforce. Countries needed women in factories again. According to the BBC, “the war increased women's opportunities in the paid labor market.” Between 1914 and 1918, “an estimated 2 million women replaced men in employment, resulting in an increase in the proportion of women in total employment from 24 percent in July 1914 to 37 percent by November 1918” (Bourke, 2011). While some stayed in their countries and engaged in factory work, others went off to fight the war abroad. Such is the case of Jane Kendeigh, the first naval flight nurse in an active combat zone. Nurses risked their safety: they were trained to treat battlefield wounds and fight hand-to-hand if necessary. Their job was impeccable and saved thousands of lives. When women can prove their value, they rise to the occasion. War nurses are just one example of how women can surprise us in different fields. Today, statistics show that they have come a long way. A study by Eurostat affirms that in 2020 approximately 66.2 percent of women were employed. They are still 11.0 percentage points below men, but things are rapidly changing. 

The previous examples are mainly about European women. However, we encounter a different scenario when focusing on Mexican women's work experience. From 1910 to 1917, the country went through a revolution. As a result, drastic changes took place. Although history tends to tell the story about the men who fought in the war, nurses, women soldiers, and suffragists were actively involved in the conflict. Between 1915 and 1920, women formed several alliances where they discussed the lack of fundamental rights and equality. Finally, in 1953, women got the right to vote. This meant they were considered active political subjects who demanded to be heard. As a result, their participation in the labor world increased. Women from Europe to America became much more present in fields exclusive to men. There are many brilliant examples of this period; however, Nellie Campobello's fantastic work regarding literature and dance is worth mentioning. She witnessed the revolution in the northern part of the country when she was just 10 years old. In 1931, she published Cartucho: Relatos de la lucha en el Norte de México. This ingenious chronicle narrates the war from a woman-child's perspective. Besides being a very original and talented writer, she was also a significant dancer in Mexican history. Nellie and her sister established the Mexican National Dance Institute and directed it for several years. They completely changed the cultural scene in Mexico. Once again, we encounter women who have proven beneficial when they have the opportunity to do so.      

The previous scenarios may seem distant and extreme. However, our country is also facing difficult circumstances today: COVID-19, security issues, and an imminent economic recession are hindering aspects of our current situation. History has taught us that crises make room for change, they demand it. Today’s crisis gives us the chance to adapt to shifting needs and achieve gender equality in the workforce. According to INEGI, 56.1 percent of workers are men, earning 27 percent more than women. Women working could be transformative for them, their households, and the country's economy. Nevertheless, their job offers are sometimes limited due to caregiving responsibilities, lack of opportunities, low wages, no flexible schedules, and no employee training. These reasons do not begin to represent the total difficulties faced by women in our country. 

Due to the adverse corporate environment, women see themselves in a very complex employment situation. Therefore, companies should acknowledge this and share active responsibility for a better future. Figures offered by INEGI indicate that women represent 51.2 percent of Mexico's population and between 2010 and 2020, their economic participation rate went from 33.5 percent to 49.1 percent. According to the Asociación Nacional de Productores de Autobuses, Camiones y Tractocamiones (ANPACT), only 1.4 percent of freight transportation operators are women. This evident gap is an area of opportunity that needs to be targeted.

In Latin America alone, the number of women collaborating within the logistics industry has increased by more than 65 percent in various areas of the sector. However, gender inclusion in freight transportation must go hand in hand with professional training and a deep understanding of our country's situation regarding women. To break the current paradigm, we need to drive change from a conscious and informed position. BeGo is working toward improved conditions for workers. We believe that artificial intelligence and technology will help us reduce the current gender gap. One of the main obstacles women encounter is inflexible working hours. They need to be able to organize their schedule, especially when they have shared or full custody of their kids. We are aware of the diverse challenges women face in the transport industry. For example, 55.8 percent of Mexican workers are informal employees. This means they have never invoiced their clients. As a result, they lose jobs; nowadays, invoicing is crucial in any business transaction. Through technology, our app helps drivers find available cargo, generates the necessary paperwork and makes payments more efficient. It assists drivers looking to self-supported life, while considering the current informality and absence of training.

Increasing opportunities focused on supporting women in the sector, regulating working hours, and ensuring labor stability are some actions we are taking to target this area of opportunity. At BeGo, we continue to create a space where leadership, respect, and inclusion are values that rule our path. We want to ensure that all those who decide to join our network have the same job and growth opportunities. BeGo seeks the talent to help us accelerate trade digitization in our country and the world. By introducing and perfecting our technology, we are contributing to the efforts to achieve a world where equity is accessible. 

Photo by:   Jasiel Cárdenas