Women in the ICT sector and changes since Covid-19 in Europe
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions across various sectors worldwide, and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry is no exception. As the world shifted towards remote work and digital connectivity, the ICT sector played a pivotal role in facilitating this transition. However, the pandemic has also shed light on the existing gender disparities within the industry. In this article, we explore the experiences of women in the ICT sector in Europe and the changes that have taken place since the onset of the pandemic.
The circumstances created by Covid-19 have prompted a shift in focus towards bridging the gender gap in ICT education and employment. Organizations, governments, and educational institutions have recognized the urgency of empowering women in the ICT sector to meet the growing demand for digital skills. That is why the pandemic has witnessed an encouraging rise in female tech entrepreneurs throughout Europe. Women are increasingly starting their own ICT-related businesses, capitalizing on the digital transformation and identifying innovative solutions to address societal challenges.
In response to the pandemic’s challenges, numerous initiatives have emerged in Europe. Countries such as Spain, Italy, Austria and Belgium have used a gender equality marker to classify their RRPs’ measures according to their contribution to gender equality procedures launched for the implementation of the RRP and will adopt a gender perspective.
This is based on the gender-targeted measures in the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is a post-COVID-19 EU support program. According to Eige: “it is estimated that less than 2% of the total funds planned to be budgeted by member states – mobilized through the RRF – will be dedicated to gender-targeted measures”. Budgeting for women in the ICT sector could be a good thing. But the involvement of government and independent gender equality bodies was limited, and public consultation with women’s civil society organizations was minimal. Initially, the RRF regulation was only intended to explain how member states’ national plans contribute to gender equality. But this did not lead to a binding obligation to implement them.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant challenges, it has also served as a catalyst for positive change in the ICT sector for women in Europe. Efforts to bridge the gender gap in ICT education and employment, promote digital skills training, and create flexible work arrangements have paved the way for greater inclusion and empowerment. However, it is crucial to sustain and build upon these changes beyond the pandemic, ensuring a diverse and inclusive ICT industry that harnesses the talents and contributions of women across Europe.