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A lack of digital skills could be hurting young professional women

Survey data from Accenture shows not getting access to training, mentorship and the like could prove an early obstacle for young women in their careers.

Not having enough digital skills could be hurting young women's careers.
Colin Anderson/Getty

A lack of digital skills could be holding young women back in their careers, according to survey data from IT consultancy firm Accenture

The stats, which are an expansion of a March 2018 report called Getting to Equal 2018 looked at the early careers of men and women and found that 77 percent of young men, compared to 62 percent of young women self-report having experience with digital technology, across different industries. Young women are also a third less likely to learn new digital skills.

That gap could be a factor influencing some of the report's other findings: Young women are getting paid less and are less likely to have higher job titles. 

The release of the new data coincides with the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual conference for women in tech, taking place in Houston, Texas. At a conference like GHC, evening out disparities among various groups of people in the industry is top of mind. 

The report surveyed 2,907 young professionals under 30 who have been in the workforce for five or fewer years. 

Digital skills include everything from taking a coding course, to working within the IT or a digital department of a company, to designing websites and apps, or even gaining new skills in burgeoning areas like artificial intelligence. 

There are a few possible reasons for this gap, said Mary Hamilton, Accenture Labs Managing Director. 

"It's a combination of not getting access to things like technology, training, mentors and networks," she said. Among those surveyed, 38 percent of women, compared to 45 percent of men said they had access to professional training.

The gap could also partly be an issue with confidence and what women self-report. In other words, they might not be giving themselves enough credit for what they know. 

In any case, Hamilton said, it's a concerning situation. According to the report, young women already earn 6 percent less than young men within their first five years on the job. Men are 22 percent more likely to have reached a senior manager position or 8 percent more likely to have reached a manager level by 30. All that could set women back the rest of their careers. It can also lead to longer term dissatisfaction, creating another reason for women to leave their jobs. 

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And in terms of diversity, that's another chance for the already low numbers to stay numbers to stay low. 

Plus, as tech bleeds into more and more industries, there's potentially more opportunity for women to miss out on shaping the future-- and the money that goes along with that. 

The report also details factors that could impact how women advance in their careers, including creating networking opportunities and skills training. 

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