Statistical sources and analysis

1.4 ICT employment

Employment occupations in ICT can be divided into three broad measures as specified by the OECD10:

  • ICT specialists, who have the ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems. ICTs constitute the main part of their job.
  • Advanced users are those who are competent users of advanced, and often sector-specific, software tools. ICTs are not the main job, but a tool.
  • Basic users are those who are competent users of generic tools (e.g. Internet explorers, word processors, spreadsheets, presentation programmes, etc.) needed for the information society, e-government and working life. Here too, ICTs are a tool, not the main job.

The first category, in market terms, involves those who supply ICT tools and the second and third those who demand the tools. However, these categories are not straightforward as developers in the second category can also be identified. Further more, ICT specialists are also required to have other skills, such as business knowledge, creativity and oral and written communication skills in order to make their “innovations” successful in market terms. Finally, non-ICT related professionals also require that some ICT skills be learned and used on the job.

Although we already mentioned above that women seem to be better represented in ICT related sectors as a proportion of the total of women’s employment, we now turn to the situation by occupation. According to OECD data11 the share of women in ICT-using occupations in 2004 as described above was around 42% in Ireland, 41% in Italy and 38% in Spain. In this case we find that most women in occupations using ICTs are in the office or clerical type occupations. In the case of Ireland this reaches around 85%, in Italy 70% and in Spain around 62%. This means that in the ICT specialist category there are relatively fewer women than men: 19% in Ireland, 12% in Italy and 11% in Spain. According to the She figures 2006 database, in 2004 the proportion of women engineers and scientists in the total labour force in the EU25 is only 1.4% while in Italy the proportion is slightly lower at 1.2%, in the case of Spain the figure rises to 1.9% and in Ireland 4%!. However, the most worrisome trend noted in these statistics is that the proportion of women within ICT specialist fields between 1998 and 2004 is declining in Ireland and Italy and only increasing slightly in the case of Spain12. This can be linked to declining number of women in ICT related educational fields.

On the other hand, the sectorial distribution of men and women with science and technology backgrounds (professionals or technicians having successfully completed tertiary education) in 2004 showed that the majority were working in knowledge intensive industries and that women occupied better positions in this area than men. In the following graph the distribution of this workforce is shown by wide sectors. Curiously, there is a higher proportion of these well educated persons in the less knowledge intensive sectors than in other sectors in which their knowledge might make more meaningful contributions. The extent to which this is representing under-employment would have to be examined further, however, given that women do in fact have higher qualifications than men on average might also be explaining this outcome.

Source: Eurostat Science and Technology data

Finally, based on the definitions described above and using the so-called relative feminisation rate index13 only Ireland is among the countries with an index value above 1 (that is above average among the 23 OECD selected countries for this index), while Italy and Spain fall below this value (0.92 and 0.90 respectively). It is interesting to note that the countries with the highest index value are the new EU member states of Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, while those with the lowest index value are Austria, Portugal and Greece. The index does not include the US.