Digital skills are increasingly the basis for the evolution of European and global societies and economies and together with digital technologies are the backbone of the digital transformation of these societies and economies. The transition to the digital age, as highlighted by the recent health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, requires the entire population to have digital skills in order to ensure their full participation in social and professional life.
However, despite the significant progress made in recent years in terms of women's participation in Research and Development, as well as their involvement in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), only 17% of employees and 19% of ICT entrepreneurs in Europe are women, according to the EU Women in Digital Scoreboard (WiD).
Furthermore, despite the growing demand for skilled human resources in technology, only 9.9% of women aged 16-24 in the EU have programming skills, according to recent OECD data. The reasons vary, but the main reasons are the low percentage of women studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMS) and the fact that all women entering the technology sector decide to move on to other professional careers.
Women as a share of all 16-24 year-olds who can program
Source: OECD Going Digital Toolkit, based on Eurostat Digital Economy and Society Statistics
There are many challenges to be faced in bridging the gender gap in the digital age and the EU's Women in Digital strategy focuses mainly on:
- Promoting digital skills and education;
- Challenging digital gender stereotypes;
- Advocating for more women entrepreneurs.
The role of EKT in enhancing digital skills and women's participation in R&D
Through its role and actions, the National Documentation Centre (EKT) contributes to the development and practice of digital skills, enhances women's participation in R&D, and highlights the gender issue in public debate.
During 2020, it organised a series of webinars on digital skills, gathering ideas and suggestions for improving the response of society and the state to the digital challenge. In addition, EKT plays a co-ordinating role in the 'National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs', of the Ministry of Digital Governance, which co-sponsors the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition of the European Commission.
At the same time, through its involvement in the European project GENDERACTION, EKT participates in the public debate on gender issues and formulates policies, most recently, the publication of an Informational Text on the rules of participation in the Horizon Europe program that takes into account the gender dimension. and Position Paper on gender in the joint planning of the 1st Strategic Plan in Horizon Europe 2021-2024.
As the National Authority of the Hellenic Statistical System, EKT collects data reflecting the Greek Research, Technology, Development, Innovation (RDI) system, and in this context has included statistics on women's participation in R&D in the list of national statistics which it publishes. The publication 'Women's participation in Research & Development in Greece. 2020 Edition', with detailed data and indicators, records the enhanced position of women in academia and research and business, as well as in European and nationally funded projects.
Finally, EKT is a National Contact Point for European research and innovation programmes, such as Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, and co-ordinator of the Greek node of the Enterprise Europe Network, the largest international business support network. With these attributes, it combines know-how from the fields of research, innovation and entrepreneurship, and provides comprehensive support for women researchers and entrepreneurs, in the search for financial opportunities at European and national level, participation in European projects, business networking , and finding partners.