April 28th is the UN’s International Girls in ICT day. The initiative is aimed at raising awareness, and empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider studies and careers in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
In Europe, women represent only 30% of the workforce in the ICT sector, constitute only 19% of digital entrepreneurs (in other sectors they make up more than 30%), and only 19.2% of ICT-sector companies have female bosses (compared to 45.2% of non-ICT companies).
Yet there are predicted to be 900’000 unfilled ICT positions across Europe by 2020, while gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to financially outperform their less-diverse competitors. Not to mention the benefits to individual women, who can find fulfilling and exciting careers at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. So, how can more women be encouraged to work in the tech sector?
On 3 May 2016, Debating Europe will be attending an event in Brussels about women in the technology sector, held by Google (you can register here). We will be asking your questions to participants and speakers, seeing what they think are the best ways to encourage greater diversity in the digital sector.
Want to learn more about female entrepreneurs and women in the tech sector? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):
We had a comment sent in from Jack, who argued that girls tend to outperform boys in STEM subjects at school, but that tech careers are still dominated by men. Research does indeed suggest that boys underachieve at STEM subjects in education, whereas girls show much more potential. What happens between the education system and the labour market to discourage young women?
To get a reaction, we spoke to Yvonne Agyei, Vice President of People Operations at Google. As a prominent woman in the tech sector, how would she respond to Jack?
Next up, we had a comment from Frauke, who supported everyone having the freedom to choose whatever career they wanted. but was worried that this talk of “encouraging women to work in the tech sector” would lead to quotas in the workplace.
How would Yvonne Agyei respond?
For another perspective, we spoke to Melissa Rancourt, founder of Greenlight for Girls, an international organisation dedicated to inspire girls of all ages and backgrounds to pursue STEM subjects. What would she say in response to Jack’s comment about teenage girls outperforming boys at STEM subjects, but then not entering STEM careers?
Finally, we had a comment from Proactive, asking what are the benefits? Women who work in the ICT sector earn on average almost 9% more than women in other parts of the economy, so there are certainly benefits for individuals. But are there broader economic benefits for everybody? How would Melissa Rancourt reply?
Why aren’t there more women in the tech sector? Are there economic benefits for getting more women into STEM careers? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!