Why this story matters:
The association is automatic: IT and other 'techy' jobs are the realm of men; education, health and care are for women.
But recent data by Eurostat shows that, in Eastern Europe, women are actually thriving in IT jobs.
In Bulgaria, women make up 44.6% of the workforce in the country’s booming technology sector. And they reach top positions and high earnings rapidly since there's a shortage of labor in the sector.
And, yes, it is a feature of Eastern Europe. According to the latest data, almost all of the top ten countries with the highest percentage of women in IT are post-socialist countries.
In the region, there is a strong tradition of mathematics and sciences -- many of the best students wanted to escape humanities, since it was easy to fall foul of the ruling regimes. As a result, many young women today grew up seeing their mothers heroically combining full-time tech jobs and domestic tasks during socialism (and probably successfully hiding their exhaustion to boot).
We tend to think Eastern Europeans are laggards in gender equality. Funnily enough, here's one area where socialism appears to have left us with a positive heritage.
Details from the story:
- In Bulgaria, women make up 44.6 per cent of the workforce in IT -- the second-highest proportion in the EU after Lithuania.
- The EU average is 32.4 % according to Eurostat, and most Eastern European countries are above this average.
- In Bulgaria, women are quickly moving up the ranks of high-tech companies, partly because of a shortage of labour in the sector.
- Women who studied mathematics and applied sciences but got jobs in other domains are shifting careers to take advantage of the opportunities.
- Bulgaria's high level of female participation in the tech workforce is a legacy from the Soviet era, when the brightest students attended scientific schools.
- Women today say their mothers are strong role models, because many worked technical professions during the socialist period.