Unemployment of women in the ICT sector (Croatia and Europe)

The EU has prepared a report in 2013 titled The activity of women in the ICT sector (Women active in the ICT sector), which indicates the importance of women in the IT sector for long-term growth of the sector, as well as for the sustainability of the European economy. Women are still under-represented, and from 1000 women with higher education, only 29 of them have a diploma in the ICT area (compared with 95 men), while only four of the 1,000 women are working in the sector. Special under-representation of women is visible in management positions, where their share is much lower than in other sectors. The main economic argument about the importance of the presence of women in this sector suggests that the European GDP would each year increase by about € 9 billion, if women would work in the ICT sector in the same proportion as men.

According to the report, the most important problems affecting the presence of women in the ICT sector are stereotypes about the role of women in society, internal barriers and socio-psychological factors that distract women from the sector (lack of confidence, lack of skills in negotiation), and external barriers (strong male dominance in the sector and lack of role models in the sector).

Insufficient number of women in the ICT sector cost the EU billions of euros and endangers its competitiveness, warned the former European Commissioner for Digital Development Neelie Kroes.

"Attracting more women to careers in the ICT sector is an economic imperative," said Kroes, referring to the initiatives of the European Commission to highlight the importance of women's employment in the ICT sector.

"If women would work in the ICT sector in equal numbers as men, European GDP could increase to about nine billion euros a year," she said.

Only nine out of a hundred applications for developers are women and they represent less than 30 percent of the workforce in the ICT sector in Europe. In this sector in the EU in February 2014, there were more than 400,000 new jobs. The European Commission estimates taht this year there will be more than 500,000 and in 2020 more than 900,000. However, the number of students in the ICT sector is stable when it comes to men (10 percent) and in declikne in the case of women (three per cent).

The women in the ICT sector are especially weakly represented in leadership positions. Among the heads they were 19.2 percent, 45.2 percent according to other sectors. Similarly, only 19 percent of entrepreneurs in the ICT sector are women, according to 54 percent in other service sectors. As part of its campaigns the European Commission wants to encourage young women to study and build a career in the ICT sector by highlighting examples of women who have succeeded in doing so.

Their video messages can be found on page ICTLadies and own success story may be published on the Facebook page "Every Girl Digital".

"ICT is no longer just for the few freaks - he's cool, he is the future," said Kroes on Twitter.

One of the ICTLadies is Cheryl Miller, and her inspiring speech was notable at TED in Vilnius. Look at it and find out how girls can save the world!

Croatian membership in the European Union commits to the application of the policy of the EU, among which are those that promote equality between men and women, equal opportunities and non-discrimination, including disabled access. The situation in Croatia in terms of employability of women in the ICT sector is not different than in the rest of Europe and the world. Although it is indicated in the analysis of the Central Bureau of Statistics that 40 percent of women in Croatia use the Internet, compared with 53 percent of men, very few of them want a career in the IT sector. Although the total number of graduates consists of 59 percent of women, their share is significantly lower in ICT studies and it is dominated by male students with 84 percent. In order to achieve positive progress toward more equal treatment of women in the labor market it is necessary to invest more in the education of employers, especially males, who still prefer male ICT experts. To achieve these positive developments it should be publicly discussed as often as possible about the following topics: the role of education in the selection of ICT occupations, gender stereotypes of technical skills, the quality of IT education in primary and secondary schools, the IT role models for girls who would encourage their interest in computer science, and how to motivate women to ICT professions. The fact is that women are today (if they work in the ICT sector) paid less for a quarter than their male counterparts.

Central State Office for e-Croatia and Microsoft Croatia 2010 conducted a study on the role of women in the Croatian information society. According to the survey, the average wage of women in the IT sector is 10,236 kn (1353 EUR) or 13 percent less than the average wage of men which is 11,758 kn (1554.18 EUR). The differences are even higher in some segments of the IT business in Croatia, and the average salary of women in the production and service of computers from 7,941 kn (1049.64 EUR) are even 26 percent behind the average salary of men, which is 10,864 kn (1436.01 EUR). There is no difference in the segment of IT services, where women earn an average amount of 11,083 kn (1464.95 EUR) which is nine percent less than the average wage of men of 12,133 kn (1603.74 EUR). The ICT sector in Croatia is still perceived as a "man's job" which indicates the fact that in that sector only every third worker is a women. However, unlike the rest of the Croatian economy in which women make up only 15 percent of management staff in the ICT sector there are almost twice as many, 28 percent. Women employed in the ICT sector are much better educated than counterparts in other sectors. Specifically, while one fifth of employees in the Croatian economy have a Faculty degree, in the ICT sector one in three women is  university-educated. Research showed that the biggest obstacle for women in the ICT sector is the perception that it is a "traditionally male occupation", but also that employers themselves prefer male ICT professionals. It is a common opinion that men are better experts in mathematics and computer science, and that women can not devote their time as men for the same job. Nevertheless, three fifths of respondents think that specific steps should be taken to encourage the employment of women in the high tech sector. The majority's opinion is that those actions would have a more positive than negative impact.

Results of the research indicate an unequal position of women and men in the information society and concurrently that should be an encouragement to all social actors - from the relevant authorities, non-governmental organizations, the education sector and media to the business community for joint action aimed towards popularization of the ICT sector among girls.

One of the main goals of the community should be breaking social stereotypes about IT employments as traditionally male occupations. Society as such should encourage all who are intrested for emerging with technology which includes working with local schools, colleges and universities, but also to support those who are currently working in the ICT industry. A larger number of women would enrich the ICT sector and it is necessary to work towards increasing the number of women in this propulsive branch of the Croatian and world economy, and it will certainly contribute to promoting ICT occupations among children and adolescents with respect to gender perspective and combating stereotypes about technical occupations as male occupations. As inspiration and encouragement for all of us to think and act actively in the resolution of this issue, is the story of a young girl from Bangladesh! Take a look and get motivated!

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Comment by Unite-IT Manager on April 26, 2015 at 22:14

Very good article on such an important topic!

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