Closing the digital gender gap would boost Europe's GDP by 16 billion EUR

The digital gender gap is a consequence of discrimination against women, which already starts in early childhood. The EESC suggests a multi-level approach and holistic policies addressing different sources of inequality.

"The education system is the main policy area to be addressed. We need to tackle cultural and also linguistic stereotypes, and it is particularly to the latter area that we can all contribute", says Giulia Barbucci. "Girls (and boys) must be provided with different role models. In the 21st century it is high time that we address gender stereotypes and tackle them at their deepest social and cultural roots."

It is essential to ensure digital literacy and education for all, and teachers and trainers must therefore be familiar with the use of information and communication technologies.

Girls' and women's interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) must be raised – for instance by presenting female digital role models and successful female entrepreneurs, and also by showcasing the possibilities and opportunities for a successful professional future with greater knowledge of STEM subjects. This is even more necessary in view of the growing importance of ICT-related education and cross-cutting, entrepreneurial, digital and soft skills, such as empathy, creativity and complex problem solving, which are skills mainly attributed to women.

Lifelong learning is essential in preventing exclusion from the labour market, particularly for women. The role of social partners is crucial here. "Social partners generally need to play a key role in order to guarantee fair working conditions and access to social protection. This is also necessary with regard to the 'gig' economy", states Ms Barbucci. (sma)