It's cool to be a geek, EU tells women

BRUSSELS Thu Mar 6, 2014 2:04pm EST

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes holds a news conference on the European Commission telecoms package in Brussels September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes holds a news conference on the European Commission telecoms package in Brussels September 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yves Herman

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A lack of women in high-tech jobs is costing the European Union billions of euros, the bloc's technology Commissioner Neelie Kroes said on Thursday, starting a campaign to attract women into a sector that faces a deepening skills shortage.

Only nine in 100 European app developers are women and women make up less than 30 percent of Europe's information and communications technology (ICT) workforce, according to figures from the Commission, the EU executive.

If the sector's skills shortage continues it will undermine European competitiveness, Kroes said. Solving it would ease the EU unemployment problem.

Figures released by the Commission on Thursday showed the European ICT sector had more than 400,000 job vacancies in February, a figure the EU executive predicts will rise to more than 500,000 in 2015 and more than 900,000 in 2020.

But the number studying technology at university is stable for men and falling for women.

"Attracting more women to tech careers is an economic imperative," Neelie Kroes said of the initiative, launched as part of Saturday's International Women's Day.

"If women held digital jobs as frequently as men, the European GDP could be boosted annually by around 9 billion euros ($12 billion)," she said, quoting a new study carried out by the Commission.

In the high-tech sector, women are particularly under-represented at management level. The percentage of women bosses is 19.2 percent compared with 45.2 percent in other sectors.

The research found that organizations that seek to nurture women in management achieve a 35 percent higher return on equity and 34 percent better return to shareholders than comparable organizations without a policy on inclusion.

The Commission's campaign seeks to encourage young women to study and pursue technology careers by celebrating role models and online videos of the sector's most inspiring women.

"ICT is no longer for the geeky few - it is cool, and it is the future!" Kroes said in a Twitter message.

($1 = 0.7278 euros)

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis, editing by William Hardy)

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Comments (1)
JoanROlson wrote:
In the United States, we face the same dilemma with not enough women in science, technology, engineering, and math. In order to remain competitive nations need to have a more gender balanced workforce. Females and males bring different talents, different ways of thinking, and problem solving to the workplace. All of them are valuable to a company and to the country.

In the workshops I present, I share strategies to teachers, counselors, and other staff at high schools and colleges to increase the recruitment and retention of females in male-dominated careers.

Mar 11, 2014 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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