Gender Equality in the EU’s Digital and Media Sectors

The digital revolution, which affects every aspect of our lives, is not a gender-neutral process. This briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service  provides updated background data showing the existing gender divide in the Digital and Media sectors across Europe.

Analysis of the risks and benefits of the impact of ICTs in terms of gender equality highlights that new technologies can be a gateway for women and girls to access new opportunities, also in terms of employment since the digital sector offers highly skilled and better-paid jobs that can help to reduce the gender pay gap. Similarly, new opportunities for women can derive also from the convergence between tradition and online media which is opening spaces for new voices, as well as forms of mobilization. However, if access to technology is unequal, content available online is gender biased, or if women themselves are not involved in shaping that content, digitization can reinforce existing gender inequalities. Digitization can thus create new risks and barriers, not least the colonization of online spaces by misogyny and cyber-violence.

Existing data show a global digital gender divide: the need to ensure digital inclusion is recognized both globally in the Sustainable Development Goals, and within the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy. Within the EU, this is not so much a question of women and girls lacking basic internet access or skills - although there are some gender differences. The gender gap in the EU is more relevant with regard to access to advanced IT skills, tertiary education, employment and decision-making in the digital sector, with girls and women less likely to study science and technology, and enter a career in ICTs, and reach managerial levels.

When it comes to the gender divide in the media, media monitoring tools show that women continue to be under-represented as reporters and decision-makers and misrepresented in coverage across the news media as well as in film and other sectors. Women news reporters, in the 22 Member States surveyed, are on average a minority (40 %), and represent a majority in only three EU countries. Women are under-represented in the most prestigious categories of news reporting, such as economics (39 %) and politics (38 %). In news coverage, women appear as subjects in one in four news items (23.37%).

Tags: Gender_in_media Freedom_of_expression Media_pluralism
Publication Date: March 2018
Research and Editorial Team: Giulio Sabbati, Martina Prpic and Rosamund Shreeves (European Parliamentary Research Service)