Who uses and develops digital technologies?

The spread of technology is having a colossal impact on the labour market and the types of skills needed in the economy and society (European Commission, 2019c). The creation of a digital single market has been a key EU policy since 2015. It aims to support an inclusive digital society, which requires the integration of ICT learning and skills acquisition across different sectors in order to provide women and men of all ages with opportunities to advance.

The European Commission’s Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition promotes this objective by bringing together local and national authorities, educational and ICT companies, consumers and social partners, who collaborate to reduce digital skill gaps in civic participation, the labour market and education (European Commission, 2016a).

A study undertaken on behalf of the Commission, however, found that gender mainstreaming is not well developed in digital single market policies and that substantial discrepancies persist between different EU Member States, depending (primarily) on national policies and legislation (European Commission, 2016a). The WiD Scoreboard[1] is one of the mechanisms put in place by the Commission to assess women’s inclusion in digital jobs, careers and entrepreneurship.

According to the Scoreboard, even in those Member States where gender mainstreaming is more advanced, ‘stereotypes and preconceptions’ continue to create obstacles for women and girls (European Commission, 2019j). These findings confirm that gender inequalities continue to prevent women from reaching their full potential and hinder EU societies from taking full advantage of women’s digital potential and current contributions (European Commission, 2018i).

The new College of Commissioners made a strong commitment to invest in digital skills and address the widening skills gap in its forthcoming digital education action plan and new European skills agenda. A communication on the future of research and innovation and the European research area will look at how the EU can better pool resources, as well as deepen research, innovation and knowledge capacity in the digital age.

This section highlights numerous gender inequalities in the use and creation of technologies and digital skills. It is structured in three subsections: the first focuses on gender patterns in the use of new technologies and reveals gender differences in confidence and concerns about technologies; the second looks at gender differences in digital skill levels and types; and the third presents some insights into control of the invention, design, evaluation, development, commercialisation and dissemination of digital services and goods.