Biographical Stories of European Women Working in ICT
Andrea Birbaumer (Vienna University of Technology, Austria), Marianne Tolar (Vienna University of Technology, Austria) and Ina Wagner (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
Copyright: © 2006
There is a deep gender imbalance in information and communication technology (ICT) professions which are only about 17% female (compare Valenduc et al., 2004, p. 19) and, simultaneously, an unsatisfied demand for ICT professionals at intermediate and high levels. Although varying in different sectors and countries, a gender imbalance and a skills shortage are common features of the ICT labour market in Europe. This is an obstacle to the development of the knowledge economy and the achievement of social cohesion. The project WWW-ICT1 implements an integrated approach to the various aspects and dimensions of gender gaps in ICT professions, covering explicative factors linked to education and training, working and employment conditions, professional and technical culture. Most existing studies have limitations and gaps. They are often limited to classical computer professions, while WWW-ICT intends to encompass new professions linked to new communication technology, also taking into account the vocational training system. Studies of the shortage of ICT professionals are mostly centred on the demand/supply relation, while we focus more on the role of professional models and professional trajectories as a factor of integration or exclusion. In general terms, employment in the ICT sector has been growing very markedly across the EU in recent years. The sector is increasingly dominated by specialist firms, which have taken over the provision of computing services for client companies. Computer services in the EU are dominated by SMEs; the majority of computer services businesses are micro-businesses employing less than ten employees (Björnsson, 2001). Despite the predominance of micro-businesses, there is a huge concentration of employment in bigger companies. This is the context within which women are employed in ICT.