Members of the European Parliament debated today the issue of gender equality and empowering women in the digital age, and will vote tomorrow on the report, written by German MEP, Terry Reintke.
Reintke’s report cites some troubling yet sadly not astonishing figures: 9% of developers and 19% of entrepreneurs in ICT are female, compared with 45 % in other service sectors. Women represent just 19 % of entrepreneurs (compared with 54 % in other service sectors) the report reveals.
The rate of change in the immediate future will be minimal as statistics of ICT related degree programmes show that women make up only approximately 20% of graduates.
I have written recently about the predicted skills shortage in the ICT sector, which include up to 900,000 unfilled positions by 2020. The entry of women into the sector would boost the market and could prevent the labour shortages, or at the very last go to some lengths to close that gap.
The report highlights that specific instruments are available at the European Union level which would instigate change. For example, through targeted investments such which would ensure women have the capital to launch start-ups.
Empowering women in the digital age also means protecting women from online gender based violence. And the report highlights that EU member states should have regard for the “Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women.”
But it’s not only women who are made vulnerable by online abusers. Sadly, the digital revolution has allowed the creation of channels and platforms to facilitate the sexual exploitation of minors as well as women. The report calls for EU and member state funding to help educate and raise awareness about digital threats as well as how to ensure safe and respectful use of the internet takes place.