New report: More women study IT but opt out of the profession in Sweden

The proportion of women studying IT is increasing, but fewer women than men choose to work in IT after education. This the outcome of a new report prepared by the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket).

In the report “Flood of Digital Excellence”, the authors jointly examined how to develop the supply of digital excellence. A total of 69 trainings at the College of Vocational Education and Training (VET), the College of Universities (colleges) and post-graduate courses in IT were involved in the survey. The overrepresentation of men is common to most training courses, however an increasing number of women choose to study IT.

The share of women studying IT is slowly increasing

The proportion of women who started an IT training has increased from 26 % to 30 % between 2012 and 2020. There is thus a slow increase and it may take some time for the gender balance to be equal and visible among IT professionals.

The IT related trainings with the highest proportion of women are civil engineering programmes in the field of chemical and biotechnology. In 2020, 62 % of new students were women. Other training courses with a high proportion of women include ICT, as well as computer science and systems science.

Women opt out of jobs in IT

Another result of the report is that women work less than men in an IT profession after training. This is not a novelty in itself, a previous report from 2020 showed the gender imbalance, as women do not want to work in IT, even if they have trained for this. More women in the IT sector would thus have a self-reinforcing effect on skills provision. One of the opportunities for improving skills provision is therefore to encourage more women to remain in IT.

High gender pay gap

Overall, men are paid more than women in IT, despite having had the same training. In all ICT professions, men earn between 7 % and 20 % more than women. The training leading to the highest pay for women is the Industrial Economy and Organisation, where the average wage is SEK 409 000 per year. It is also the training where men receive SEK 79 000 more in the average wage, which is the most unequal pay distribution of all the courses included in the survey.

However, one of the courses resulted in higher pay among women than among men, a bachelor’s degree in electronics, computer science and automation. There, the average pay among women was SEK 390 000 compared to SEK 342 000 for men.

In one of the most common professions in IT, software and system developers, women earn an average of SEK 487 000 per year. However, the lowest average wage is among supporter technicians, where women earn SEK 379 000 per year.

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