AFAEMME is doing an important investigation commissioned by the Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs of the European Commission, to identify the obstacles that make it difficult for women to access to labour opportunities in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector at a European level.
This study tries to identify practical measures that will allow eliminating, or at least diminishing, the effect of the existing obstacles. The study forms part of the project "Women & Job Mobility: Obstacles & Solutions for Women in ICT Sector” which is being executed by AFAEMME in partnership with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO), the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union Syndicate of Ireland (SIPTU) and the Italian Training Centre (IAL- Veneto). The study is being carried out in Italy, Ireland and Spain.

The AFAEMME team has done a series of individual interviews to women working in the ICT sector in Spain (engineers, mathematicians, computer technicians, etc.) in order to analyse their experiences, the lessons that they have learnt in this sector and to identify the best practices that must be taken into consideration and that could help women interested in careers in this sector.

Below we have chosen some extracts from some of the interviews regarding the opinion the interviewees had on the existence of labour barriers for women in the ICT sector and on the supposition that gender stereotypes existing in some homes are reproduced in the work place:

"Stereotypes are important and they suppose a barrier to the hiring of women in the technological sector, especially for positions of technical character".

"Conciliating family and labour life is complicated to carry out in a practical form. The main barrier is that this responsibility normally falls on women, and women generally put their family in front of her professional career. In the cases of women do not have a family of their own, I consider that, in general, these women are much more open to mobility and they offer a greater accessibility for this purpose. This can perfectly be extrapolated to the ICT sector".

"This society discriminates, yes. But there is also a subject hard to overlook: the biological one, this is an important subject that we cannot forget. Men and women are not equal. Women worry more about family and children than men. We cannot forget it. This makes that, when time arrives, a woman has to decide whether to have children or not, and this will make her face her work in a very different way, and it is this way".

"Yes, they are some stereotypes. When International Technology Congresses are celebrated, you notice that we are in a world of men. All stands are full of beautiful stewardesses with little clothes on, who walk around solely to attract men glances. I suppose that it is a marketing strategy. People will speak more of the stand that has the most handsome girls. Why can’t we find male stewardesses? In any case, I do not believe that labour discrimination exists".

"The favourable factors from the gender point of view lean on the fact that women can collaborate with a very practical vision that enables equipping tools with real applications that are attractive to the market. A great opportunity for economic growth and social change will come from the influence technology has in important tasks and in the new ways of working. The handling and control of time and the organization of one’s professional career equips both men and women with a great mobility and this will change the labour panorama completely".

"The power of powerful women is always more ephemeral and less real".

"The limitations from the professional point of view are directly related to the smaller percentage of women in technical professions and the high concentration of technological applications designed for masculine environments and consumers".

"There is no doubt that the workplace is another space of socialization and that the stereotypes learnt at home are taken to other surroundings. The rolls of "father" or "mother" are projected to people with power. Apart from this, employees, particularly if they are women, are treated in an infantile and paternalist manner by men with more power. The power of powerful women is always more ephemeral and less real. Even her own administrative personnel expect that she will take care of affaires that they would never expect a man in the same position to take care of. A constant questioning of her position, whereas in the case of the men, merits and the respect are taken for granted".

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