UK scores highly among EU states for women’s IT skills

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A European Commission study shows that only 18% of ICT workers are women although the gender gap is narrowing when it comes to taking part in the digital economy.

Finland, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were the countries where the highest proportions of women worked in or with the digital economy; Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy were the countries where women were least likely to take part.

Across Europe as a whole 86% of men and 84% of women used the internet at least once a week.

The Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index is designed as a tool to measure women’s participation in the digital economy.

As the figures for the scoreboard were collected in 2019, the UK was included and was second to Finland in the overall rankings.

Broken down into individual skill sets, women in the UK ranked second for STEM graduates with 20.2 per 1,000 graduates; eighth for proportion of female ICT specialists (17.5% of all ICT specialists against an EU average of 17.7%).

In Finland 20.5% of ICT specialists were women; in Sweden this figure was 20.4%.

The scoreboard also rated the internet and computing skills of women who didn’t work in ICT. Here, the UK rated highly compared with other European states, and was in the top four of all the categories – at least basic digital skills, above basic digital skills, internet user skills and at least basic software skills.

Germany, the continent’s largest economy, received an overall rank of 12th out of the 28 countries measured. It was 19th in terms of women undertaking STEM subjects and 16th in terms of the proportion of female ICT specialists. This put it below the EU average for several indices.

The gap in basic digital skills between men and women had narrowed from 10.5% in 2015 to 7.7% in 2019 the study found.

The study also showed that the EU as a whole was ahead of each of 17 advanced countries it compared itself with when it came to women’s digital skills.

The European Commission has several policies designed to increase citizens’ digital skills, under the Skills Agenda for Europe umbrella.

EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said: “We want Europe’s digital economy to empower everyone, regardless of their gender. To lead the way in the digital transition, our industry need to fully seize Europe’s skills potential and foster women’s talent.

“We will pave the way for the digital upskilling of women across the EU with the upcoming Digital Europe Programme and at least 20% of the Recovery and Resilience Fund.”

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