ICT may well be seen as a rapidly growing sector – a promising field for future employment as well as a sector strongly associated with innovation. But it is still marked by gendered dynamics and segregation, in a very similar way to what can be found in the majority of other economic sectors.
The reasons for this undoubtedly rest on cultural biases – as shown in a recent study, changes to code proposed by women are accepted more frequently by maintainers of repositories, but only when the gender of the author is not disclosed. Yet gender imbalance in this sector starts with education, which impacts in turn the employment situation.
ICT: a rapidly growing sector, with women at the margins
ICT employment is currently undergoing very rapid growth in the European Union as digitalisation spreads throughout the world of work and reshapes it. According to the OECD, ICT employment is defined as the people working in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. The indicator is measured as a percentage of business sector employment. The sector represents a broad category, including professional profiles as diverse as systems analysts, software developers, telecommunication engineers, ICT sales professionals, and graphic and multimedia designers.
Specialists in this highly promising sector are in particularly high demand, with employment growth more than eight times higher than the average employment growth in the EU, according to Eurostat. Firms in all European countries report difficulties in recruiting ICT specialists, particularly in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium and Estonia, according to the latest Eurostat statistics on hard-to-fill vacancies in enterprises. As a result of this trend, a shortage of 500,000 ICT specialists is expected in Europe by 2020.
But so far the ICT sector has also been marked by stark gender segregation, with less than two women employed in every ten positions. Discrimination is particularly obvious when considering high ranking positions: the following chart shows the percentage of women employed as ICT specialists ac