Digital Gender Gap

Getting more women into ICT careers would be a force for change and a major boost for this key economic sector in Europe“, said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, during the 2007 International Women’s Day in Brussels, and this means that it is quite concerning how, after 10 years, we are still talking about this problem (European Commission, Women’s careers and ICT: An untapped potential, Brussel 2007).

Before talking about DIGITAL GENDER GAP, it is necessary doing a little step back and see where it originates and what is DIGITAL DIVIDE.

The DIGITAL DIVIDE is a recent social event, quite complex and linked to the new technologies and Internet.

Generally, when we talk of DIGITAL DIVIDE, we mean that gap existing between those who have the possibilities to access the new technologies of communication and information (ICT), like Internet, and those who do not have these chances.

DIGITAL GENDER GAP affects mostly women of several countries around the world, depending on their socio–economic situations and the country where they come from. A recent report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows alarming numbers: the percentage of women with access to Internet is 12% lower than that of men. It seems obvious, then, the rising of digital gender gap.

Even though an official report said that, it is still hard to understand how it could be imaginable that girls and women, almost of all ages, are not properly involved in the digital era. For example, let’s think about WhatsApp or Facebook, or still Twitter, Instagram and so: our friends, families, colleagues have all these social profiles.  So, for this reason, it is quite difficult to think how a phenomenon like gender gap could actually happen in this specific field.

Nowadays, using those simple applications for communication is not a big issue anymore; we can consider them as basic elements to access to the technological world.

According to different studies promoted by the International Telecommunication Union, in Germany, which is one of the most developed European country, the 90 % of all Germans are online; older women less than younger and the GAP is referred mainly to the computer literacy (familiarity with computers and more generally with technology). Women represent just 15 % of the total employees in scientific and technical professions, and just 20 % of IT graduates (referred to German population).

Two are the possible reasons:  women in ICT jobs earn 24% less than men and they are discouraged to enter this specific labour market because it is a male dominated sector, even if it is not a reasonable justification, it is a reality (WG-Gender-Digital-Divide-Report2017).

One among various initiatives that have been undertaken to try to resolve this GENDER GAP  is “EQUALS – The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age”, a programme thought for women already working in this sector or for those who want to access it.

Therefore, the only thing we can do is REACT!