OT2012 Question

Women account for 51% of the world population. However, they have a much smaller presence than men in the field of new technologies, in both developed and developing economies. Worldwide, the percentage of women with a computer science degree is usually under 20% and can even drop to under 10%. Considering the labour market, the situation is more striking: In 2005, 25% of all European employees worked in high-tech knowledge intensive services (KIS). Only 2.4% —around 160,000 people— were women, and this figure dropped as low as 1.1% —under 18,000 people!— in the high-tech manufacturing sector. Interestingly, these gender differences do not apply to certain Asian countries, such as Malaysia, and are found above all in advanced Western industrial countries.

Women clearly lag behind when it comes to becoming part of the world of new technologies in many parts of the world and this is a key factor in hampering progress. Some studies have suggested that these differences between men and women reflect women's supposed aversion to science and technology. Others, on the other hand, suggest these differences are due to the very same discrimination issues that lie behind unequal pay for men and women.

In this space, we invite you to think about the phenomena behind this state of affairs, along with leading figures from all over the world. Here, scientists, lawmakers, thinkers and artists offer their thoughts on whether Steve Jobs would have been quite so successful if he had been born a woman, and explore the cultural and social forces that still hamper progress in this area even today in the 21st century.

We hope you enjoy it,