Women continue to be under-represented in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT), both at an educational and professional level, speakers at a workshop on women’s role at the digital age stressed on Monday.
The workshop was organised by the Office of the Commissioner of Gender Equality and the National Mechanism for Women’s Rights.
“Women still face significant challenges in the digital technologies sector, which affect all stages of their professional and social development,” communications minister, Vassiliki Anastassiadou, said.
Anastassiadou added that according to a study of the European Commission on Women in the Digital Age, four times more men than women studied information and communication technologies in 2015 in Europe overall. Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria recorded the best results in the EU, with three times more men than women.
In addition, only 24 out of 1,000 women who obtained a higher education degree in the EU graduated from ICT departments and only six of them followed a professional career in the digital sector.
The study showed that women working in the digital sector tend to leave their work between the ages of 30 and 44 at a rate of 8.7 per cent, four times higher than men. In terms of female entrepreneurship, in 2015, 23.4 per cent of ICT entrepreneurs in Europe were women, an increase of four per cent compared with five years before.
Despite the limited percentage of women in entrepreneurship, the study showed that digital start-ups set up by women are more likely to be successful than those of men.
Anastassiadou said her ministry would strengthen existing initiatives to address the fact that women lag behind in the digital technologies sector, “caused by stereotypes in the media, inadequate education of women in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and insufficient involvement of women in innovation and entrepreneurship”.
Statistics of the European Institute for Gender Equality for the year 2017, cited by the gender equality commissioner, Iosifina Antoniou, showed that Cyprus ranks 22nd among 28 EU Member States, with 55.1 points out of 100.
The effort, she noted, should aim at closing the digital gap between the two genders, promoting female employment and entrepreneurship and removing inequalities in the labour market.