Aiming to enhance gender equality and to support women and girls starting up a career in the technology industry, the Maltese government has launched the “Women on IT” initiative, according to a press release by the government’s Department of Information (DOI).
Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri launched the initiative, which is done through a collaboration with Malta Business Network, with the involvement of stakeholders active in the industry.
Since the lack of female participation in the sector is a challenge across Europe, with this move, Malta is hoping to strengthen its position on a global scale further. Despite comprising 52% of Europe’s population, women only hold 15% of ICT-related jobs in the continent, which figure is even lower for Malta: 2.7%.
“The past few years have seen an unprecedented rise in digital and communications technologies, which, together with the digital economy, have dramatically changed every aspect of life as we know it,” Mr Schembri said. At the same time, the skills and competency levels of ICT professionals have undergone a substantial deficit, which issue the government hopes to remedy through higher female participation in this industry, the parliamentary secretary added.
Mr Schembri also noted that Malta was the first European Union member state who launched a National eSkills Strategy, aspiring to address the need for continuous professional development and upskilling specialisation of the workforce in the sector.
The parliamentary secretary also underscored the importance of making existing initiatives more accessible to young women. “We need to collectively strive to end gender stereotyping and cultural discouragement which negatively affects our young women and their opportunities in the digital labour market,” Mr Schembri concluded.
Efforts to include women to a higher ratio in the IT industry appear to come in time. On the one hand, women have traditionally been discouraged from choosing a career related to engineering or information and communications technology globally. On the other hand, the pay gap has been significant between men and women internationally, favouring men over women in the same positions; an issue that is recently being addressed on a broader scale by companies and legislators.