A Working Group of the European Commission (EC) entitled Women in the Digital Age started its work today in Brussels. Its main objective is to increase the number of women working in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT). It intends to achieve this with six measures. These also apply to Slovakia, where the EC will evaluate their fulfilment in individual member states after a certain period of time. In Slovakia, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization (ODPMII) is responsible for increasing the number of women in IT.
“The IT sector and working therein is our future. Indeed, we are witnessing rapid technological change and digital transformation, as some of the traditional occupations will gradually disappear due to industrial automation and robotics. It is therefore crucial and extremely important that our citizens have the necessary digital skills to be able to navigate the IT sector,” said Deputy Prime Minister Richard Raši, saying that if we do not want Slovakia to be an assembly shop of Europe, we need to train Slovaks to be skilled in information and communication technologies.
The working group at the European Commission was established on the basis of the Women in digital age declaration, which Slovakia also signed in April this year. On the basis of the declaration we need to prepare a set of measures to increase the proportion of women working in the IT field. It is a commitment to all Member States to develop and adopt a strategy increasing the number of women. It will be prepared by the ODPMII for Slovakia.
Up to 52 percent of the European Union’s population is women. However, in the group of all ICT specialists, they only represent 17 percent earning 19 percent less than men for the same work. In Slovakia, only 13.7 percent of women work in this area. According to a 2018 EC study Women in digital age, if more women were to work in the digital sphere, this would mean a 16 billion EUR GDP gain for the European economy. The increase in the number of women in this field was also highlighted in her speech to the European Parliament by the new President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, who also considers this to be extremely important.
Thus, Slovakia must first apply the six measures contained in the signed declaration, but must also prepare its own national strategy that will reflect these measures. The Commission will subsequently evaluate the six measures proposed by the EC on the basis of the DESI index and, in our country, a study by the Institute for Public Affairs entitled Women in the World of Information Technology, as it applies to the Slovak environment. Measures include, for example, focus on education and qualification, as well as creating an attractive working environment for women, equal opportunities and non-discrimination in the labour market. Another one is spreading the positive image of women working in IT positions through the media. A measure is also the creation of a pan-European day for girls and women in ICT and promoting a non-discriminatory working culture and working conditions.
Slovakia has this role already included in the Action Plan for the Digital Transformation Strategy of the SR as approved by the Government in July this year. However, there are also supporting activities done in Slovakia. One of them is, for example, the statement of the Slovak Female Scientist of the Year, which will be held on Tuesday, 1 October 2019. The project aims to support women working in the field of science and appreciate their efforts.