EC: More ICT roles for women could give £7.8 billion GDP boost

Attracting more women into the ICT sector could result in a €9 billion (£7.6 billion) boost to annual GDP for the region, according to a European Commission study.

The ‘Women active in the ICT sector’ report shows that women continue to be underrepresented in ICT jobs. Of 1,000 women with a degree which were surveyed, only 29 hold a degree in information technology, compared to 95 men. Furthermore, only four out of 1,000 will eventually work in the ICT.

The survey found that women are also more likely to leave their job mid-career, and are particularly underrepresented in managerial roles.  Only 19.2 percent of ICT sector workers have a female boss, compared to 45.2 percent of non-ICT workers.

If the trend of a male dominated sector were reversed, the survey argues, with more digital roles handed to women, then companies would be more productive and generate more revenues. Organisations which are more inclusive of women in management achieve a 35 percent higher return on equity and 34 percent better total return to shareholders than comparable organisations, it is claimed.

According to the study, increased productivity as a result of more women in digital roles could equate to a total of £7.9 billion added to the European GDP each year. This would work on the basis of attracting 115,000 more women to work in ICT related roles, with an average productivity output per person of €78,000 (£68,000) each year.

However this would require a number of steps from employers to encourage women into jobs.  Such measures would include renewing the image of the sector to make it more appealing to young women, fostering clear career paths, increasing access to seed funding for female tech entrepreneurs, and highlighting the improved performance of companies employing women.

Commenting on the report, European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes said: "We now know, beyond doubt, that more women in a business mean a healthier business.

“It is high time the IT sector realised this and allowed women a chance to help the sector and Europe's economy benefit from their enormous potential."

A CIO Survey from recruitment and outsourcing specialist Harvey Nash last year found the representation of women to be "highly unrepresentative of the population at large". Ninety three per cent of respondents to the global CIO survey are male.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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