Country report: Spain


ICT careers have given an increasing number of women a chance to enter the sector, even if their first choice of educational or vocational training was not ICT related. Furthermore, given a specific labour market context with a high degree of job to job mobility due to a high level of fixed term contracts, the ICT sector in Spain for women’s job to job mobility seems to be related to other issues. These are mainly the personal drive to work for their own profit (entrepreneurs and freelance professionals) and the opportunities that have presented themselves, including the demand for professionals combining different knowledge bases (for example legal or managerial with ICT skills).

One of the most interesting findings, in our view, has been the fact that basic training in ICT and interest in ICT at an early age are not necessarily obstacles for women to enter the ICT sector. The combination of ICT with other formal training options and the creativity in different applications seem to be giving women an edge in the sector, in spite of general and specific obstacles being faced. Mobility into and within the sector as reflected in the education/training/work histories and the entry into the present post confirm these statements. These type of experiences should be disseminated to encourage more women into the sector.

On the other hand, although almost half of the respondents were not thinking of moving to another job in the near future, there were two main issues raised with regard to job to job mobility in the ICT sector: training and reconciliation of work and family life. In fact geographical mobility is very much restricted by the latter, however, in some cases the possibilities that ICT itself offers should be exploited further.

Although it is not clear from this survey, and given its statistical limitations, that there is a gender division of tasks, it is true that the sector itself employs many women, but that they are not in the highest levels of responsibility. Although in Spain this has to be tempered by the fact that in the most important companies (all multinational and not Spanish) the CEOs or directors are women (Google, Yahoo, and IBM, for example) Spanish companies might not be in the same position.

Gender stereotypes are also clearly an barrier that continues to affect labour market outcomes and are the basis for discriminatory attitudes and prejudices. Although many of the respondents do not apply them to themselves or to other women, the advantages and skills women have should encourage ICT companies to employ and train more women.

EU policies on lifelong learning and on reconciliation of work and family life are of particular importance to encourage job to job mobility, but also geographical mobility within and between Member States. Fighting stereotypes and encouraging gender equality also play a key role if both women and men are to enjoy the benefits of mobility and enhance the impact that this has on the wider economy and society. A more decided support for companies to change outdated management styles and models, which come into contradiction with the changes and opportunities offered by ICT services and products should also be promoted from within EU institutions. Given the large SME and family owned fabric of businesses, this should be an important part to be strengthened in the framework of the growth and jobs strategy. As put by one of the respondents:

“Work culture [in Spain] is based on strong dedication to projects in the sense of the number of hours dedicated to them…the lack of training in project management favours a typically masculine culture of high rotation, intensive work without a schedule, bad management, unsolved conflicts, lack of attention to the emotional and personal necessities, etc. These are the factors that can affect in a negative way the adaptation of women to a typically masculine culture based on the negligence of balance between work and personal life. [Some of the barriers are] the necessity to be always up to date, permanent trainings, the hyper specialisation of the sector, the enterprise policies of big companies, the deficiencies in training of most of he technological project manages , etc.