GSMA Europe Mobile Meetings Series on balancing inclusion, opportunities, and access for women

Start: Tuesday 15 March 2016

End: Tuesday 15 March 2016

Location: Brussels, Belgium

On 15 March, GSMA Europe hosted the Mobile Meetings Series breakfast debate on Digital economy: Balancing inclusion, opportunities, and access for women. Participants, including MEP Terry Reintke (as moderator), officials from the European Commission and representatives of operators, think-tanks and other interested parties discussed concrete actions that can be taken to foster greater inclusion of women in the EU Digital Single Market.

Participants highlighted the importance of concrete actions to empower women in the digital age. Educating young girls in science, mentoring young talent in the digital economy, and marketing the potential career prospects to girls and women in science and technology is essential. Grassroots initiatives bringing together media, policymakers and influencers to spread the positive message about the opportunities in the digital economy can also play a significant role. Moreover, participants discussed an inclusive online university to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills, a platform for funding female entrepreneurs, gathering more gender-segregated data, and targeting more marketing at females. The European Parliament is already highlighting some of these issues in its Own-Initiative Report on Gender equality and empowering women in the digital age (currently under discussion).

Participants also discussed best practice for creating a more inclusive digital sector, such as providing support for women at mid-management level returning from maternity leave as well as mandatory paternity leave. Other best practices include structuring procurement rules in favour of companies with a gender balance or female leadership, as well as introducing quotas and gender-balanced panels. Some companies are adopting such practices because the economic argument for diverse teams is well established – companies with a gender balance perform better.

Overall, participants agreed that reducing the gender gap in the digital sector requires a cultural paradigm shift from how girls are raised at very young ages, to how each policy proposal considers gender across every single sector. Participants suggested that leadership from the European Commission could go a long way towards making a truly inclusive digital economy a reality.

For more information about the GSMA Programme on Connected women, click here.