Achieving GE will significantly advance
the STEM labor force, research and innovation, enhance the economy, and
reduce the risk of women’s social exclusion to the benefit of society.
This article considers the main issues regarding GE in STEM in Europe
including an analysis of the reasons
for its necessity; a description of the
European Union’s strategy, measures, initiatives, and activities toward
achieving GE; and, finally, their anticipated impact.
Gender Balance in STEM and
the Necessity for Gender Equality
The recent momentous growth of the
digital production sector offers extended employment opportunities
for STEM and ICT-skilled employees.
Within the European Union (EU),
employment of STEM-skilled personnel increased by 12% between 2000
and 2013.4, 7 According to the Tech Nation journal, in the U.K. alone, 1. 46
million people ( 7.5% of the country’s
workforce) are employed in this sector.
13 Future increases are anticipated.
The European Commission (EC) for
example, estimates that by 2020 over
900,000 additional employees will be
needed in the IT sector whereas for the
entire STEM sector, seven million job
openings are forecast by 2025.4
Despite the good present employment opportunities and the future occupational prospects, European countries face a conspicuous labor shortage
in STEM, which tends to be more pronounced in the digital sector.
number of young persons pursuing
STEM-related studies is decreasing,
contrary to the increasing number of
university graduates, while a significant proportion of current STEM employees are approaching retirement
7 Consequently, ICT- and STEM-related professions are among the top
five occupations facing skill shortage
in Europe. Excepting Finland, all EU
member states lack such professionals.
4 Thus, labor force availability and
recruitment in the field are becoming
increasingly more challenging. A con-
WOMEN’S PERSISTENT UNDERREPRESENTATION in science,
BY PANAGIOTA FATOUROU, YOTA PAPAGEORGIOU,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
education, occupations, and careers in various parts of
the world and its negative impact on STEM labor force
and research and innovation (R&I) have given rise to
measures, projects, and initiatives aimed at promoting
gender equality (GE). In Europe, gender balance in
R&I is understood as a social justice and equality
issue. Various measures (for example, regulation
and research framework, bodies, agencies, funding
schemes, prizes, and awards) have been implemented
at the European Commission (EC) and European
Union (EU) levels to increase women’s participation
and include the gender dimension in R&I
AND VASILIKI PETOUSI