In Europe, a lack of female participation in tech begins early.
A Unicef report says that the issue starts in childhood and is symptomatic of the way that girls and boys are socialised differently. This can have the effect of deterring girls from pursuing what they are told are “difficult” science and mathematics subjects.
Eurostat data has found that just 1 percent of girls said they intended to work in an ICT-related sphere, compared to 10 percent of boys. The issue knocks on into further education too, where 82 percent of students are male and less than 30 percent of researchers are women.
According to the DESI 2022 report, only one in three STEM graduates, and just 19 percent of ICT specialists are female. In the EU, men make up more than eight in 10 IT specialists.
Given the context, it is hardly surprising then that in Europe, female founders also have less access to the funding pie.
According to a report from Women in VCs, less than 2 percent of venture capital investments went to all female-led teams in 2021, and since 2018, all female-led teams in Europe have only gotten about 2.7 percent of startup investment each year.
This is a systemic issue too, with the report finding that only 15 percent of general partners at VCs are female, and manage only 9 percent of total assets under management.
It is well known that gender-balanced companies are more likely to have better employee satisfaction, higher productivity, and increased innovation.
Improved financial performance is a huge motivating factor too, with Accenture research finding that increasing women's participation in STEM careers can help to close the gender pay gap––as well as boost women's cumulative earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years.
The experience gap
Now, new research has found that when it comes to experience, men lap women by almost three years. Women have been in the tech sector for an average of 11.3 years, whereas men’s average tenure comes in at 14.2 years.
“With that gap at almost three years, it’s not difficult to see how this impacts progression and access to those more senior and leadership roles, not only are there fewer of those positions available, but male tech professionals effectively have a head start in terms of their experience in the sector,” the study’s authors say.
“We know that women are under-represented at every level in tech, but what this new data really shows us is that there’s an experience gap at work for those women already in the sector,” they add.
The leaky pipeline
The issue manifests itself in what’s known as a “leaky pipeline”. A 2022 study from the UCD School of Economics found a “continuous process whereby women are more likely to exit STEM than men”.
When women have an undergraduate degree in a STEM subject, they are more likely to obtain a non-STEM Master’s degree. The study also found that once women are in the labour market, they gradually leave it during the first 15 years post-graduation, with the result that females are about 20 percent less likely to work in STEM, compared to their male counterparts.
There is no quick solution for an issue that is systemic and persistent, but for women in the sector, working in a company that actively seeks to improve gender diversity across the pillars of its workforce, and which supports women at all stages of their lives, is vital for preventing attrition.
So if you’re looking to make a move to a company where the culture is more supportive and inclusive, then the Tech EU Job Board is a great place to begin your search. Discover three female-friendly companies below.
With its headquarters in Berlin, Zalando has a vision to be inclusive by design. Starting with hiring, the company says it does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, personal expression, ethnicity, religious belief, or disability status, and that it only assesses candidates on their qualifications and merit. A defined diversity and inclusion strategy called do.BETTER is in place, as well as a number of employee resource groups, several of which are dedicated to women. See all open roles here.
Salesforce is committed to creating a workforce that reflects society through inclusive programs and initiatives such as equal pay, employee resource groups, inclusive benefits, and more. It is aiming for 40 percent of employees globally to be women-identifying and non-binary by the end of 2026, and was #2 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list in 2021. Want to work here? Explore open roles in Europe.
Leading global professional services company Accenture says it is acting on a commitment to gender equality by providing targeted support, flexible work arrangements, comprehensive training programs, benefits, and more. The company is on its way to achieving gender parity—for those whose gender is binary—by 2025, and says that 50 percent of new hires are women, as are 32 percent of its executives. See opportunities at Accenture now.
Lead image: Shirly Niv Marton