Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Don't take no for an answer – Neelie Kroes addresses gender deficit in ICT

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European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes is marking the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day with a speech in Budapest, warning that the ICT sector must find a new gender balance if it wants to avoid underperformance in coming years. Even though women programmed the first computer Kroes challenged the audience: "Can anyone name a woman who set up and runs their own huge ICT company? No, of course not. In that hall of fame, the names you think of are Jobs, Gates, the Google guys, the Skype guys, Zuckerberg and his friends. I want to see a woman on that list." The Commission estimates the European ICT sector will face a shortfall of 700,000 skilled workers by 2015, partly explained by a lack of women engineering and computing graduates. "We need to tackle the problem early and from many angles," Kroes said while noting the Commission's Code of Practice for Women in ICT now has 60 signatories, and that leading companies such as IBM and Intel are taking "steps in the right direction." "Companies and governments need to do more than run networks and camps - the effort must range from better child care to a better balance of subjects in the school system." "From classrooms to boardrooms to garage start-ups: my message is the same. There is no point in getting half of Europe digital. There is no place for macho nonsense in our digital future. Until the whole sector understands this and acts on it, we will remain at risk of a massive skills gap and we will hold Europe back."
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