Thirty-seven percent of European women would like to work in a tech-focused or digital environment, despite 28% of people across the region still perceiving technological and digital skills as predominantly male, according to a new study.
The pan-European study by JFD and BVA surveyed 4,000 people from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, analysing the current state of gender equality in tech industries and entrepreneurship.
With businesses around the globe hoping we have reached the tail end of the pandemic, there’s no denying the lasting impact of COVID-19. While previous data from the US showed that the pandemic is having more of a negative impact on women than men – with female employees being more likely to be laid off than their male peers – the majority (77%) of Europeans believe that the crisis is equally affecting women and men.
“We learn in this study that even in crisis times, the new generations are the most optimistic about their country’s economic situation and their future,” said Delphine Remy-Boutang, CEO of the Bureau and JFD, and president of GEN France. “This reveals their determination to integrate into tomorrow’s world. We need to build an increasingly digital future by relying on this new generation of leaders.”
In terms of bouncing back from the economic impact of COVID-19, researchers predict that China and Germany will benefit from the speediest recovery. Citizens of these nations, as well as the US, appear to be best prepared to meet the demands of future professions, according to the study’s interviewees – who unanimously agreed that the most prominent jobs of tomorrow have their roots in digital, alongside those in the medical and paramedical sectors.
Almost half (47%) of Europeans think roles in IT development will be sought-after moving forward, while 45% think artificial intelligence (AI) engineers will continue to grow in importance. These beliefs remained evident across individual countries; from the UK, for example, 48% of respondents think this of roles in IT development, and 43% recognise AI engineer as a ‘job of the future’.
In terms of the growing potential within tech professions, digital skills (76%) are considered to be more important than technical skills (74%). Overall, the skills deemed to be increasingly in-demand are perceived as mostly non-gendered, but technological and digital expertise are generally still thought to be more masculine (28%) than feminine (4%).
On a more worrying note, 16% of working Europeans think their profession with disappear in a decade, and are not convinced they have what it takes to bounce back, with 56% of respondents saying they do not feel equipped to take on the digital ‘jobs of the future’.
This could be down to a lack of knowledge and insufficient access to information, with only 36% of respondents claiming to be well-informed about digital jobs and industries (the number grows to 51% among 15–29 year olds). Women are generally at a disadvantage when it comes to such issues, with 37% of women saying they plan to work in tech (48% for 15–29 year olds), but when people in the UK specifically, were asked whether they felt sufficiently familiar with digital professions, 62% of those who voted ‘no’ were women.
In both the professional and digital spheres, successful recruits are expected to possess such traits as adaptability (76%), creativity (73%) and intelligence (74%). While these qualities are non-gendered, they are more traditionally associated with the female character.
To be a successful entrepreneur, however, Europeans feel the most important qualities required are a sense of responsibility, self-confidence (40%), ambition (41%) and leadership (39%). These traits are, unfortunately, generally more commonly associated with men. In the UK, such traits are unfortunately considered to be even less feminine, with self-confidence at 34%, ambition at 37% and leadership at 36%. Empathy, on the other hand, is thought to be the most feminine of the typically ‘entrepreneurial’ qualities.