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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Digital Education Action Plan – Action 13

Women’s participation in STEM studies and careers

Fewer women are interested in participating in the digital sector, be it in the field of higher education, jobs or entrepreneurship. The Commission study ‘She Figures’ (2021) confirms this trend.

According to the study, women represent only 20% of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) graduates and only 17% hold tech sector jobs. Women also represent only 24% of self-employed professionals in technical professions, such as science, engineering or ICT.

Young girls and boys are almost equally able to expect to work in a science-related field, but with age and at higher levels of education, girls tend to steer away from Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) and ICT subjects. Available data (‘Women in the digital age’, 2018) shows that only one in three STEM graduates is a woman.

The pace of change is not promising – the share of women in ICT jobs in the European Union (EU) increased by only 0.5 % between 2012 and 2016 (Source: European Institute for Gender Equality: Women and men in ICT: a chance for better work-life balance, 2018).

There has been a small increase of female scientists and engineers in EU Member States, with the 39% in 2011 rising to 41% in 2020.


To encourage women´s participation in STEM studies and careers and ensure enhanced inclusion of women in the digital economy, the European Commission will support young female students in developing their digital and entrepreneurship competences.

It will seek to increase the inclusion of women in digital and STEM study fields and careers, including as entrepreneurs.

Key activities

  • make training in digital and sustainable entrepreneurship competences available to girls at secondary education level via the dedicated online learning platform Girls Go Circular ( managed by EIT RawMaterials, a Knowledge Innovation Community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology)
  • organise girl's and women's E-STEAM* festivals in different EU Member States to enhance digital and entrepreneurial competences among girls and women and boost their confidence to use them creatively to spot opportunities, innovate and create value for society
  • offer new higher education programmes for engineering and information and communications technology based on the interdisciplinary STEAM approach. This includes building on the EU STEM Coalition to support the establishment of national STEM platforms and disseminating the results of Erasmus+-funded projects and good practices available within the European Universities alliances

Expected results/deliverables 

  • by the end of 2027 - engage 40,000 young female students in training on the circular economy and digital skills
  • by 2024 - organise 5 Girls, 5 Women ESTEAM Fests and 1 final event
  • include STEM as a priority in the 2021 and 2022 Erasmus + annual work programme for the Cooperation Partnerships projects in the field of higher education


Beginning in 2021, until 2027.


This action is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe, Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) and Erasmus+ programmes.

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* STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking. 

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