Dhe proportion of women in digitization professions has hardly increased in recent years. While it was 14.6 percent in 2013, it was 16.3 percent last year. This is the result of a survey by the German Economic Institute (IW), which is exclusively available to WELT.
In some digitization professions, on the other hand, the proportion of women is significantly higher, as the study authors write. For example in non-clinical psychology with 76 percent, archiving with 63 percent and graphic, communication and photo design with 60 percent. The smallest proportion of women can be found in the professional categories of construction electrics specialist with just two percent and in the supervision of mechatronics and automation technology with one percent.
The Institute defines 97 professions as “digitization professions”, including software developers, IT application consultants, mechatronics engineers, construction electricians and computer linguists.
In addition, the proportion of women applying for patents is still very low. In the field of digitization technologies, the proportion of patent applications by women rose from 3.7 percent in 2010 to 5.2 percent in 2019, according to the IW survey.
There is no trend reversal in sight in other “classic male jobs” either. The proportion of female engineers in mechanical and plant engineering is only increasing slowly, as a new study by the RWTH commissioned by the IMPULS Foundation shows. Female engineers are therefore significantly underrepresented in mechanical and plant engineering, even if the proportion of women among employees has risen from around nine percent in 2019 to eleven percent in 2022.
“Gender roles must be broken and young people encouraged to choose their professional future based on their skills and interests,” says the IW. The skills shortage has always been stronger in digitization occupations than the average for all occupations and is therefore slowing down the growth in employment. And relaxation is not in sight. “More likely, the shortage in digitization professions will continue to increase.”
The study authors Barbara Engels, Alexander Burstedde and Axel Plünnecke have also worked out a remarkable effect. According to the comparative study “International Computer and Information Literacy Study” in the eighth grade in Germany, girls have “significantly higher computer and information-related skills” than boys. “In the self-assessment of competencies, however, girls are significantly less confident than boys in all tested areas than the measured competency values show.”
In addition: “The parents also rate the abilities of their daughters worse than the skills of their sons if they have the same mathematical skills,” writes the team of authors. “So girls need more self-confidence, encouragement and practical application of their digital skills if they are to choose digitization professions more frequently.”
“The low numbers are anything but satisfactory and show that far too little has developed in the right direction in the last decade,” says Anke Herbener, Vice President of the Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW). “The omissions of the past are reflected above all in the IT area. But there are also deficits in our educational world.”
The digital industry continues to suffer from the fact that there are too few female graduates in technical professions. But Herberner also emphasizes that many of the member companies in the BVDW, including a number of service providers, have a significantly higher proportion of women. “Also because many members are training young people.”
“The compatibility of family and work is a basic requirement. It is now a given in the digital economy, working from home is a widespread model,” Herberner continues. However, there is untapped potential. “Among other things, politicians must ensure all-day care for children.”
In addition to a more attractive design of job profiles and training through politics and business, companies should “pursue binding and measurable goals” to increase the proportion of women, Herberner demands.
“A current Bitkom study shows that three quarters of ICT companies see the future of the industry at risk without women,” says Achim Berg, President of the Bitkom digital association, to WELT. “Attracting more women to the IT industry is not a nice thing to have, but a condition for economic success.”
Berg demands that companies have to leave “the well-trodden path” and go “new, creative ways in attracting female talent”, for example through networking and mentoring programs of career orientation for activities in the digital sector.”