Digital gender gap (Exploratory opinion from the European Parliament)

EESC opinion: Digital gender gap (Exploratory opinion from the European Parliament)

This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament to feed into a mission to Tallinn, Estonia, on "Digitalisation and the women's role", organised by the EP's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) on 19-21 September 2018. The opinion looks into the digital gender gap in education system and the labour market. It analyses the reasons behind this phenomenon it and makes proposals on how to increase the participation of girls in STEM and ICT studies and boost the presence of women in the digital sector. It also looks into the pros and cons of digitalisation and its impact on women's life-work balance.

Key points

  • The causes of digital gender gap are multiple. It is recommended that a multidisciplinary approach be used that brings together different aspects of innovation (technological, social, cultural etc.).
  • It is important to increase the digital literacy of girls and the number of women in STEM and ICT studies. More female digital role models are of primary importance in overcoming stereotyping.
  • It is necessary to encourage women's participation in technical and high-level jobs by overcoming educational and professional barriers, as well as guaranteeing digital lifelong learning for women.
  • To prevent the spiral of feminisation of poverty, fair working conditions and access to social protection must be guaranteed to women.
  • Female entrepreneurship must be supported by removing the several barriers women face.
  • It is important to enhance the labour market participation of women with disabilities by implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  • "Smartworking" and teleworking should avoid any risks of blurring of boundaries between care, work and private life.
  • One of the main obstacles women face in participation in online activities and social networks is cyber-bullying. The Istanbul Convention must be ratified and applied without further delay.
  • All policies at all levels should be designed with a gender perspective (gender mainstreaming). Gender budgeting and the "gender lens" can be useful tools in this regard.
  • The European Commission should strengthen the "Women in Digital" task-force and the "Digital4Her" initiative and recommend Member States to set national targets in this field.
  • The social partners have a key role to play in addressing gender roles in the labour market, promoting the role of women in decision-making, supporting work-life balance and tackling the gender pay gap.
  • The European Parliament should support these recommendations in its next legislature.