The digital divide is still open: only 19.4% of ICT specialists in Spain are women

Although in recent years the digital divide between men and women has been reduced, it is still a long way from disappearing. This is revealed by the data of the 2023 Gender Digital Divide Reportwhich has just been published by the ONTSI (National Technology and Society Observatory).

Thus, when it comes to using the Internet or teleworking there are almost no differences between women and men. But in other aspects and areas, such as training in STEM disciplines or work as ICT specialists, the differences are still very pronounced.

The gap, in some cases, more than between men and women, occurs between age groups. Thus, in the case of women between the ages of 16 and 74, 92.8% use the Internet at least once a week. They are only 0.3% less than men in the same group who use the Internet weekly: 93.1%. These are figures that leave Spain with 0.2% less than the EU average in terms of weekly use of the Internet.

After the age of 74, the percentage of men and women who use the Internet drops sharply. More in the case of women, since after the age of 75 only 39.7% of them have ever used it, compared to 44.6% of men. It is used weekly by more men (44.6%) than women (31.9%).

In the case of those under 15 years of age, girls use the computer and the smartphone more. But the same is not true of the Internet. Boys use the computer in 92.9%, and girls in 93.2% of the cases. 70.7% of girls have smartphones, compared to 68.4% of boys. Meanwhile, 94.5% of girls use the Internet, compared to 95.4% of boys under 15 years of age.

Differences in Internet use

The difference in the use of the Internet between men and women is more in what they use it for than others. Women use it more for health related activities than men. Men, for their part, use it more to play video games and listen to music than women.

The use of Internet among the female population is mainly used for communication, with instant messaging (92.5%) and access to television or online videos (79.5) and sending and receiving emails (79.5) as the most common activities. What they do the least on the Internet is sell goods or services (18.9%), follow online courses (29.1%) and play (30.1%).

With regard to online purchases, 54.3% of women buy goods and physical objects over the Internet, compared to 54% of men. Regarding services, 21.6% of women buy them, compared to 27.5% of men. In both cases, one percentage point below the European average.

Women are also more aware of the situations of harassment that they may suffer through the Internet. Even so, 70.3% of the victims of crimes related to sexuality on the Internet are women. 80% of them believe that harassment on the Internet is quite widespread, or very widespread. In the case of men, only 60% believe it.

Education in STEM disciplines

Only 17.8% of the employed population in Spain that has training in STEM areas are women. In addition, the percentage of women in Spain with digital skills that are less than those considered basic is higher than that of men: 37.3%, compared to 34.3%. 62.7% of Spanish women have basic digital skills, 3% less than men.

Of course, compared to the European average, Spanish women are 10% above European women, and the deference in terms of gender is three tenths lower. Of course, in three of the five skills areas, men with skills above the basics outperform women. Especially in digital content creation and problem solving. The areas in which women outperform men, and not by much, are information and digital literacy, and communication and collaboration skills.

The divide between men and women increases in higher education. Thus, only 15.3% of the graduates in computer science at the university level are women. In 2020, in Spain there were only 12.3 women between the ages of 20 and 29 for every thousand inhabitants with a higher degree in STEM disciplines, compared to 29.2 graduates who are men. In addition, women are a minority in engineering and computer science university studies.

The digital divide in terms of STEM training is not less in professional computer training studies. Registered and titled women are also a minority. Above all, in medium-level vocational training. At this level, the greatest difference between male and female graduates is in the Intermediate degree of microcomputer systems and networks. Only 7.1% of those enrolled in it are women.

In the basic grade, 23% are enrolled in office computing, and 14.2% in computing and communications. As for the higher grade, only 9.2% of those enrolled in Administration of computer network systems are women. In Multiplatform Application Development, 9.8% of the total, and in Web Application Development, 13.6%.

At work, women ICT specialists are also a minority in Spain

The difference between men and women in the educational field in terms of training in information technology is also transferred to the world of work. So, in 2021, only 19.4% of ICT specialists were women, one tenth more than the previous year. Of course, although the figure seems low, it is 0.3% more than the European average. Regarding the total employed population, in Spain there are 6.2% ICT specialists, and only 1.7% are women.

The gender wage gap in sectors related to technology in Spain is 8.6%. However, Spain is the EU country in which this gap is smaller. The average, in fact, is 19.3%. In addition, the country has a score of 54.2% in specialist skills and employment in Women in Digital, 5.6 percentage points more than the European Union average. This means that it is among the countries with the highest level: in ninth place, one position above the one it had the previous year.

As regards teleworking, yes, the total number of women working remotely is greater than that of men: 15.9%, compared to 14.9% of men. The same thing happens in the rest of the European Union, where the average difference between teleworking between men and women is even more pronounced, with a difference of 2.4 percentage points. The possibility of teleworking in Spain is higher for women, since 68.8% of men work in positions that do not allow them to telework, compared to 65.1% of women.

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