Gender Equality in European High Tech

Politics - December 30, 2023

In the Ever-Evolving World of High Technology, a Persistent Shadow Hangs Over Female Representation, even in Europe.

In the old continent, however at the forefront in respect of diversity and inclusiveness, the presence of women in the technology sector is still significantly limited with the real risk of undermining the fundamental path towards the desired gender equality. According to Eurostat, there were 9.8 million people employed in these sectors across the EU in 2022, accounting for 4.9% of total EU employment. Gender representation in this sector sees men representing just over two thirds (67.2%) of the total, while women make up just under one employee in three.

High technology is one of the driving sectors of the European economy, but its workforce still reflects significant gender inequalities. In fact, women are underrepresented in key roles, such as software engineering, product development and corporate leadership. This disparity is not only an equity issue, but also an obstacle to fully exploiting the innovative and creative potential of female minds. Several causes contribute to the low presence of women in European high tech, and one of the main factors is the lack of female role models in the sector who can inspire and guide young women interested in tech careers. Furthermore, gender stereotypes persist in educational and professional paths, discouraging women from pursuing studies and careers in science and technology.

Corporate culture, often dominated by male dynamics, can be another significant barrier along with the absence of work-life balance policies, lack of work flexibility and often competitive environment, which can make it difficult for women to thrive and advance in technology companies. The lack of gender equality in high tech has consequences that extend beyond the professional world. Firstly, it limits diversity of thought and perspective, impeding innovation and creativity, and secondly, it perpetuates gender stereotypes, contributing to a working culture that is not inclusive and sustainable as well as reducing economic opportunities for women, hindering the realization of the full potential of the human resources of the European continent.

To address the under-representation of women in European high-tech, concrete and sustained actions are needed. Educational institutions must promote girls’ access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses and encourage female role models in technology careers. Furthermore, companies must adopt diversity and inclusiveness policies, creating a work environment that supports female talent and allows for equitable career progression.

Mentorship programs and professional networks dedicated to women in the industry can also play a critical role in opening up opportunities and fostering a supportive culture. Furthermore, it is essential to encourage women’s participation in industry conferences and events, promoting the visibility and recognition of their achievements. Some companies and institutions in Europe are already proving that it is possible to break the glass of inequality in high tech. Programs like “Girls Who Code” and “Women in Tech” are inspiring and supporting young women to pursue tech careers. Leading companies are implementing gender equality policies, seeing the benefits of a more diverse and innovative workforce.

The under-representation of women in European high tech is a complex challenge, but addressing it is essential to ensure a fair and sustainable future. Through the adoption of inclusive policies, the promotion of female role models and educational support, it is possible to break the glass that still limits progress towards gender equality. Only through collective, committed effort, can we build a technology sector that reflects the diversity and innovation that is essential to our shared future. Exploiting the objective capabilities of each individual, beyond the gender represented, will be fundamental for the whole of Europe, in view of technological progress that has never been so accelerated as that envisaged for the near future.