We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), characterized by the integration of digital technologies, artificial intelligence, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging technologies into various aspects of society and industry. Standing amidst it, we accept the truth that there is no scope for a gender gap in the process of socio-technological progress. 

The process of socio-technological progress is intertwined with the development of society and technology, where each aspect influences and shapes the other. It's a complex and dynamic relationship between the two. Understanding the process of socio-technological progress helps us navigate the dynamics and complexities in that relationship.

Women play a pivotal role in any social and natural process of progress. Being the medium of the reproduction process, women ensure the progress of humankind; at the same time, generally, being the primary caregiver for infants, women ensure the progress of society. In general, women serve a very crucial role in child academic and social education. Considering these crucial roles, in the context of IR4, it is essential for society to have technologically enlightened women to ensure the progress of society and socio-technological progress. 

Given that there are more females than males in Bangladesh, crucial issues described hereafter need consideration to ensure steady socio-technological progress. Women must actively participate in the decision-making processes of society at the primary level. When women participate in making decisions at the primary level (e.g., in their own families), it ensures their voices in society in the form of family activities, leading to more inclusive and equitable policies and solutions. 

Women should be empowered and play an active role in social progress. This refers to allowing and encouraging women to gain the required knowledge and skills to be equipped to take part in social progress and to develop a society where there is no place for sexist thoughts and environments. An empowered woman, free of sexist ideologies, is the true asset of a society. When women make themselves empowered in the true sense, they can contribute more effectively to social and economic development. This can lead to a developed society, which has an inherent demand for technological progress, as without socio-technological progress, society will be stagnant and irrelevant to the rest of the technologically developed world. 

Women shall take initiatives to educate themselves and shall take the initiative to cope with the challenges of IR4. The rapid technological advancements are blurring the lines between physical, digital, and biological spheres. It encompasses technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things. To fully participate in the IR4 economy, women must acquire the required education and training in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) as well as digital literacy skills. This will equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the changing job market and take advantage of new opportunities created by IR4. We need to accept the truth that digital technologies have also blurred the concept of gender. In most cases, it is irrelevant who is using digital devices. 

However, the demography of Bangladesh states something very alarming-51% of girls are married before they turn 18, 23% of women are subject to intimate partner violence, and two-thirds of women lack decision-making opportunity. These statistics reveal the reality that we must go through a long transformational thought process to achieve desired socio-technological progress. 

Writer: Barrister Nazmus Saliheen, Treasurer, Bangladesh Women in Technology.

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