ICT is the major driver of growth in productivity in the European Union. The ICT sector not only drives innovation, but fuels competitiveness in the global economy. Jobs in information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors like telecoms and the Internet are therefore key sources of growth and crucial for the growth of the economy. However, the EU’s competitiveness depends on attracting and keeping skilled workers, especially in the high-tech sector, including women. But while a shortage of around 300,000 qualified engineers is expected in the EU by 2010, fewer than 1 in 5 computer scientists are women.
In short, Europe needs more “cyberellas” – women equipped with the e-Skills needed for the future. These skills are key to ensuring Europe retains a major role in the ICT sector of tomorrow. To tap this vast pool of talent, special attention must be paid to raising the participation of women in this field. I therefore warmly welcome collaboration with industry to ensure we open girls’ minds to the opportunities that are there for them within the ICT sector. It is fundamental not only that no one is left behind but that the sector benefits from increased diversity and productivity gains that have been demonstrated to come from a better balance of women in top jobs and technical jobs.
This report shows why gender differences exist in the ICT industry and makes recommendations on how this might be addressed. In particular, it is crucial that we work together to address misguided perceptions of the ICT industry; we must help young people to see the excitement of this dynamic and fast-evolving sector.