To celebrate International Women’s Day I’m going to focus on my own backyard and something I’ve learnt from experience: women need to take control of their digital literacy, whatever season of their career they find themselves in.
As far as I can see, no one teaches you digital literacy. You learn it by doing it.
According to a 2006 article (Jones-Kavalier/Flannigan), “Digital literacy represents a person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment, with “digital” meaning information represented in numeric form and primarily for use by a computer. Literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media (text, sound, images), to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.”
It’s a fact of working life – women move in and out of the workforce more often than men. According to research from the Commonwealth Bank (2011), women have 20 years of peak earning capacity throughout their careers, men have 40! This means we accumulate less superannuation and our financial security at retirement is less secure.
So what bow am I trying to draw here between earning capacity and digital literacy? A certain level of digital literacy is and will continue to be required to participate in the digital economy, therefore professionals need to adapt and develop the relevant skills to keep pace with change in their respective fields.
The very nature of the new technologies means it is possible to remain connected and develop digital literacy skills throughout periods out of the workforce. The catch is that it’s up to the individual to make it happen.
For example, just before my second child was born I finished a long-term contract with an organisation. I started this blog while on maternity leave with the objective of creating a low-cost, high impact marketing tool. Little did I know that it would turn out to be so much more for me personally and professionally (see an earlier post of mine on three reasons why to bother blogging).
So regardless of which career season you find yourself in (graduate/middle management /maternity leave, first, second or third time round/sabbatical/career break/the boss/seeking directorships/starting your own business/studying or a
combination of all of the above [we are women, after all]), digital literacy
matters to your future employability and therefore your income.
Knowledge is power and here are two things you can do to improve your digital literacy today:
- Actively manage your online profile and personal brand. Don’t wait for others to define who you are and what you’ve achieved, do it yourself. For example, update your Linkedin profile or establish one. Try some status updates. Join a group relevant to your profession. Understand the privacy settings on your account. Reconnect with colleagues and contacts and observe how others in your network use Linkedin and make up your own mind about what is effective and what isn’t.
- Establish some effective habits for consuming information. If you’ve got a laptop, tablet or smart phone, make them work for you. Get busy with a reader application (I use Google Reader) so you can spend 15 minutes each day scanning your fields of interests and staying up to date.
I understand how overwhelming this whole area can seem, but in my experience, it’s important to be informed and experiment than be in the dark and unable to participate in the discussion.
What’s been your experience?