Despite evidence that allowing more women to enter the digital jobs market can create an annual € 9 billion GDP boost in the EU area, there is still a very large ICT gender gap in Europe. Women are more reluctant to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) studies, and only a fraction of female tech graduates actually go on to work in this dynamic sector. Moreover, women are still underrepresented among tech entrepreneurs in decision-making positions.
The good news is that ICT can show the way towards a more equal workplace – in the tech sector men and women in the same non-managerial jobs and with similar backgrounds tend to earn the same. However, on the negative side, the hierarchical structures are still very much male-dominated.
What are we doing?
The European Commission has been addressing these challenges through our policy and funding programmes and some great in-house initiatives. Think about the European Network of Women Web Entrepreneurs Hubs which link women's organisations with entrepreneurs' organisations as well as investors and mentors; the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs which hosts pledges to increase the participation of girls and women in digital jobs. Moreover, we are trying to get women and girls involved with digital technologies and improving their skills during the annual EU Code Week which offers plenty of activities, including seminars, dedicated classes, bootcamps etc.
Under Horizon 2020 there are clear requirements to include women in evaluation panels and scientific consortia. Our goal is to have at least 40% of women evaluators and we have just launched a campaign to get more women to join our independent expert database for European research and innovation. Please do sign up!
I am particularly pleased to announce that among the nine outstanding women entrepreneurs who brought their breakthrough ideas to the market and have reached the final stage of the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2016, there are also ICT women innovators. The Award ceremony is on 10th March in Brussels – watch this space!
Let me know what you think. I would be happy to hear your views and share my thoughts.
Happy Women's Day!