Even if the Netherlands are quite liberal and progressive in many fields, such as gay marriage, there are still fields where work needs to be done. One of these fields is women in tech. Yes, even in the Netherlands girls and women are strongly underrepresented in this industry. Expat Republic will look at the numbers and will introduce you to some organizations that want to change that.
Let’s Look At The Numbers
In 2018 only 15.6 percent of women worked in Tech. In the same year, in Bulgaria, it was more than 30 percent of women working in tech. In 2017 in the Netherlands, only 24 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduates were women. Only 12 percent of highly educated women were in CS (computer science) jobs and less than 26 percent of women were in tech management positions, which is among the lowest in the EU. Data suggests that Eastern European countries offer some of the best opportunities for women in tech. Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, and Latvia make up the 4 countries with the highest percentage of female tech workers in Europe. In the Netherlands, in the year 2017, the gender pay gap in tech jobs was 18.4 percent.
Research from July 2019 that analyzed Dutch register data of high schools and universities found out that females are less likely to enroll in STEM-related fields. “With respect to study success we find that conditional on enrolment in STEM, women are less likely to graduate than men within the nominal duration or the nominal duration plus one additional year in. However, female students do perform equally as male students in terms of graduation within ten years. Also, they are less likely to drop out during the first year than men.” The researchers concluded that although STEM programs are less popular among female students, they do perform well in STEM higher education in the long run.
What Are The Reasons?
The paper from 2019 mentioned above takes into consideration the self-reported levels of STEM confidence between gender and ethnicity groups and find that women on average report lower confidence than men. According to them, ‚another reason for lower STEM enrolment rates among females could be that girls might perform worse in mathematics than boys in high school. In PISA data gender differences in math scores exist, with boys outperforming girls in many countries. This difference, however, could be driven by the competitive setting of test-taking: boys perform better in competitive environments than girls.‘
Also, we need to look at the way children of both genders are treated during high-school. When girls are bad in math or science-related subject, they are often told to rather focus on languages”, says Sina Bünte from the Amsterdam-based organization SheSharp that helps women to start a career in the field of Tech. Furthermore, she claims, the lack of role models in this field that girls can try to live up to plays a big part.
Which Organizations Want To Change That?
TechGirl: The website techgirl.nl offers helpful tips and tricks for coding, collects information for career switches into tech as well as opportunities for scholarships, etc. Furthermore, there is a database of vacancies in the field of Tech. Additionally, they also provide specific advice for the daily life at the office, for being the only female person in an otherwise male-only programmer team, for example, or present interviews or portraits of inspiring women that dared to switch careers into the field of Tech.
SheSharp: The Amsterdam-based foundation SheSharp provides women with workshops, conferences, and a mentorship program to succeed in Tech or Entrepreneurship. They wish to provide opportunities for under-represented individuals to share their passions, learnings, stories, projects, or challenges they overcame. At each of their events, they focus on topics such as data science, big data, analytics, cloud computing (scalability, reliability), machine learning / artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), testing / QA, DevOps / CI/CD, blockchain/cryptocurrencies, frontend development/frameworks.
NewTechKids: NewTechKids is a technology education academy in Amsterdam for boys and girls. At their programs, which are available in English and Dutch, computer science teachers and innovation specialists guide kids in acquiring knowledge and skills related to designing, programming, testing, and creating stuff that matters to them. “As a company founded by two women, NewTechKids is dedicated to increasing the participation of girls and low-income youth in computer science education”, states their website.
Female Hub Amsterdam
The problem has finally achieved the attention of the Dutch government as well. Councilor Victor Everhardt (D66) for finance and economy plans to invest 750.000 euro into project Rise, a so-called ‘female hub Amsterdam’ where female entrepreneurs and women in the tech sector can strengthen, improve and help each other, states the dutch newspaper Parool in December 2020. “This hub unites twenty Amsterdam-based organizations with the same ambitious mission: to achieve equality in gender and status in the tech and entrepreneurial world, which is still lagging in that area.” In four years, Everhardt hopes that at least ten thousand women will have been introduced to the entrepreneurial or tech sector.
Currently, only 11.6 percent of all start-ups and scale-ups in the Netherlands are founded by women. And according to a recent ranking of Dell of the best cities for female entrepreneurs, Amsterdam also did not make it in the top 15.
A situation that hopefully will change soon.
By Sarah Tekath