April 12-15, 2015, Osijek, Croatia

Fostering the ICT Ecosystem

Women in ICT & Entrepreneurship

The Gender Gap in ICT

According to 2015 data published by the European Commission, only 30% of the 7 million people working in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector are women. The gender gap is still prominent, particularily in leadership and decision-making positions. As the ICT sector continues to grow throughout the region, an increase in the number of women participating in ICT will have a signifcant positive affect on the economy and on gross domestic profit (GDP).

An EU study published in 2013 reveals that of 1,000 women with a Bachelors or other first degree, only 29 hold a degree in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) (as compared to 95 men), and only 4 in 1000 women will eventually work in the ICT sector. In addition, women are more likely to leave the sector mid-career than men and are under-represented in managerial and decision-making positions (even more than in other sectors). Only 19.2% of ICT-sector workers have female bosses, compared to 45.2% of non-ICT workers.

Women in ICT: A Benefit to Business and the Economy

According to the 2013 EU study, increasing the number of women in digital ICT and entrepreneurial positions would boost GDP annually by €9 billion. The ICT sector would benefit since businesses that are inclusive of women in management positions achieve a 35% higher return on equity and 34% better total return to shareholders than other comparable businesses and organizations. In addition, women who work in the ICT sector earn almost 9% more than women in other parts of the economy and have higher flexibility in arranging their working schedules and are less susceptible to unemployment.

Closing the Gap

In order to increase the number of women in ICT and entrepreneurial positions, action should be taken in order to create a business environment more condusive for qualitifed female leadership. Four topics that can be an area of focus for businesses are:

  1. Improving access to seed and venture capital programs for women entrepreneurs, thus increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in ICTs

  2. Highlighting the improved performance of businesses employing women, which improving working conditions in the sector

  3. Building a renewed image of the sector among women and society, with actions such as disseminating most appealing ICT topics for young women (exciting, diverse, profitable etc.)

  4. Empowering women in the sector by promoting, together with industry, harmonised European educational curricula to foster clear and straightforward ICT careers paths

Connecting Women with ICT Careers

Many businesses today have adopted strategies to increase opportunities for women in ICT-related businesses and start-ups. Some companies have emerged soley to bridge the gender gap in the start-up world. One such company, PowerToFly, was established to connect qualified women with companies around the world looking to hire female tech talent. 

The European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes commented recently, "We now know, beyond doubt, that more women in a business mean a healthier business. It is high time the IT sector realised this and allowed women a chance to help the sector and Europe's economy benefit from their enormous potential".