Surviving the ‘new normal’:
Exploring the digital capital of women over 50
By and large, digital knowledge and expertise has been emphasised as important for younger people as well as retired seniors. Scant attention has, however, been paid to the gendered impacts of digitalisation. In particular, women over 50 are largely absent from the research record. However, with the rapid transition to a digital society, being digitally savvy is fast becoming a prerequisite for not only for social connection, education, and access to key services, but also in new forms of work, or even self-employment. Accessing work is also an issue with the increasing digitalisation of modern recruitment processes which requires up to date digital knowhow to successfully search and apply for jobs.
Women are disproportionately affected by the digitalisation of work, in the sense that robots and algorithms are increasingly eliminating jobs with repetitive and routine tasks most often held by women. On the other hand, democratising and liberating narratives about home-based work, now an accepted practice due to Covid-19 pandemic conditions, suggest increased opportunities for women in professional and knowledge-based work. However, women continue to be disproportionately exposed to precarious and non-standard work, often holding more than one role. While non-standard forms of work have been presented as offering women with care obligations more flexibility, non-standard work offers less labour and social protections. Women are then often having to accept lower wages and unstable jobs in the digital economy. This research is particularly timely given that during the Covid-19 pandemic women’s vulnerability to job loss, fragmentation, self-employment, and job precarity has increased dramatically.
This project wishes to explore the digital preparedness of women over 50. It will explore digital orientation, digital use and outcomes in relation to past, present and future work. It also seeks to understand how Covid-19 pandemic conditions have impacted the work conditions and opportunities for work for women in this age group.
We are interested in interviewing women aged between 50 – 65 to take part in conversational interviews that will be between 60-90 minutes long. You may have concerns about losing your job to technological automation, or about the increasing precarity of work, or have a newfound optimism about your work future. If you are trying something new, applying for jobs, have started your own business, have returned to education, are retraining, or have experienced a downsizing or loss of work we would like to interview you. Participants will receive a $30 supermarket voucher.
All interviews are conducted online and are recorded using Zoom’s audio-visual platform for the purposes of transcription and analysis. However, your identity will remain anonymous in any publication resulting from this research. This project has been evaluated and judged to be low risk. A report will be available through InternetNZ. Further publications may be generated for academic and public audiences, and links to these will be published on the Social Research NZ website.