Use of digital tools could be 'a revolution' for women at work

Making the most of new technologies would boost the EU economy and promote gender equality, argues Alessia Mosca.

By Alessia Mosca

13 Apr 2015

The information and communications technology (ICT) sector accounts for 6.6 per cent of Europe's gross domestic product (GDP). Yet beyond mere economic data, it would not be an exaggeration to say the sector represents our future, and its development will be crucial in allowing the EU to play a prominent role on the international stage.

How are women - half of the European population - involved in this?

According to data published by the international telecommunication union in 2013, globally 37 per cent of women are online, compared to 41 per cent of men. However, despite the significant percentage, not much is said about the impact the internet and other technologies have on women's reality.

In ICT academic courses and professions, the proportion of women is still too low. Out of 1000 women with a Bachelors or other first degree, only 29 are ICT graduates, compared to 95 men. Of these 1000 women, only four actually work in the field.

"In ICT academic courses and professions, the proportion of women is still too low. Out of 1000 women with a Bachelors or other first degree, only 29 are ICT graduates, compared to 95 men. Of these 1000 women, only four actually work in the field"

Climbing up the corporate pyramid, the disproportions are even more significant - only 19.2 per cent of ICT workers have a female manager, against 45.2 per cent of employees in other sectors.

As is often the case when it comes to gender inequality, it would be wrong to look at the issue simply as a problem of equal opportunities, without considering the economic benefits. According to a European commission study, having an equal proportion of men and women in the digital sector would lead to a €9bn increase in Europe's GDP.

The internet represents a huge opportunity for women, not just in terms of employment - with many new digital professions appearing on the market - but also in more general terms of quality of work and self-realisation. 

When I speak about the union between the internet and the world of women, I always think of the great potential that new digital tools offer in helping us better reconcile our professional and personal lives.

Certainly, this should be not be a 'women's problem', and it is not. However, if men's inability to reconcile their family and working lives is, in most cases, 'just' a source of frustration, for women things are different, for reasons that we well know.

We should take advantage of the technologies that are available to us in order to achieve so-called 'smartworking' - this means being able to work anywhere there is a computer and an internet connection, without having to face hours of traffic to travel to and from the office on a daily basis, therefore having full control over how we organise our days.

Of course, technology is simply a means to an end. It is up to culture to decide whether or not to use this tool, and in what way. This would require us to change our work culture, focusing on reaching our objectives rather than the number of hours spent at a desk.

This would be more than a change - it would be a revolution. In some 'enlightened' companies, it is already happening.

Read the most recent articles written by Alessia Mosca - EU must put pressure on Bangladesh to improve workers' rights

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