The European Commission today launched a scoreboard that will measure female participation within the digital economy.
The Women in Digital scoreboard tracks female inclusion in the digital economy and was launched on Ada Lovelace’s birthday.
Set to be an annual report, it will look at 13 indicators under three areas: internet use, internet user skills and specialist skills and employment.
The scoreboard will aim to provide the EU with four key data points each year, a general performance assessment of individual member states, an assessment of progress over time, comparative analysis and the identification of areas where member states can improve performance.
The project was launched by Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society who commented in a release that: “Women account for 52% of the European population but only around 17% of women work in ICT- related jobs.”
“Governments, companies, educators and civil society need to take decisive actions to change this trend. All together, we can promote women’s talents and make sure we encourage them to STEM study fields early on.
She added: “Today, we have an extraordinary tool, the Women in Digital European Scoreboard that shows where exactly countries must improve women’s situation.”
Women in the Digital Age
The creation of the scoreboard follows the publication of a substantial report created this year for the European Commission by Spanish consultancy Iclaves and the Open University of Catalonia.
Women in the Digital Age (pdf) analysed the trends and practices of female participation in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Employment and education and makes a number of recommendations for European policymakers, including the creation of a certification scheme that credits non-gender biased algorithms.
That report found that 57 percent of third-level (university degree) graduates in the EU are female, but only 24 percent of them graduated from ICT related study fields and very few of those that did, gain employment in the field.
It notes that women represent 21.5 percent of all workers in digital jobs.
Gaining a degree in ICT-related studies was found to have a positive effect on the employment of males, yet this was not a statistic shared by their female peers.
“For every 1,000 female tertiary graduates in the EU, only 24 are graduates in ICT-related fields. Of these 24 graduates, only 6 women end up working in digital jobs. On the other hand, out of every 1,000 male graduates, 92 studied in ICT-related fields of which 49 of end up working in digital jobs,” the report found.
The researchers highlighted stereotypes as key cause of low employment rates of women within ICT sectors following their graduation.
“Stereotypes not only concern what is seen as appropriate for each gender, influencing young people’s choices, but also affect the perceptions of the capacities and abilities of each sex. Thus, what appears to be a competitive advantage for a man, such as having a certain type of education, is not so for women.”
According to the report the annual productivity loss to the EU economy due to the lack of female participation in the ICT sector is estimated to be €16.1 billion.
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That report suggest that the EU needs to consider gender equality in the digital field as an essential element of the Union strategy. While it highlights education as key factor to be worked on it stated that more work needs to be by companies to be more transparent in their recruitment and HR polices.
With the continual development of AI and their use in the recruitment process it recommends that the EU: “Create a certification scheme for algorithms and AI systems to guarantee neutrality and the absence of biases.”
Women in Digital scoreboard is expected to provide EU legislators and planners with an extra data set of specific information with which to tackle the discrepancies between male and female participation in the digital economy.