Engineering and computer science are fields overwhelmingly represented by men, while women hold sway in healthcare and education. The 2022 Report on the State of the Job Market in Spain sheds light on the situation.
Women represent 54% of job applicants on the job search platform InfoJobs, while men represent 46%.
Beyond these nearly harmonized preliminary data, there are many differences between the genders (by sector, education, job level, etc.) that prove the gender gap remains a reality.
The ongoing existence of the gap is one of the most relevant conclusions drawn from the 2022 Report on the State of the Job Market in Spain by InfoJobs and Esade.
It all starts at school
The first point of divergence is education. If we look at the Infojobs applicants with a higher degree, 60% are women.
The preponderance of women is observed across the various types of degrees recognized in Spain: women represent 71% of applicants holding a diplomatura (a three-year program, now non-existent), 64% of applicants holding a licenciatura (a five-year program, now non-existent), and 65% of applicants holding a modern-day university degree.
On InfoJobs, six out of 10 job seekers holding a university degree are women
However, these percentages fluctuate in higher engineering and technical engineering, where men represent 71% and 77% of applicants, respectively.
Clearly, the source of the gender gap stems back to enrolment. Here, there is a clear majority of men in the engineering, industry, and construction sector (70%), as well as in the field of information technology (85%).
According to the 2021-2022 University Students Statistics (USS), there are only three areas in which enrolments are balanced between genders: science; business, administration, and law; and agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary.
The sectors with the most applicants
The gap in education is later transferred to the job market. And, of course, to the sectors for which job seekers apply on InfoJobs.
Of male job seekers, 15% report that their previous job was in the field of purchasing, logistics, and warehouse; 11% in customer service; and 10% in engineering and technical fields.
Only 2% of female applicants come from engineering and technical fields.
The sector with the most female candidates is customer service, at 23%; followed by healthcare at 11%, and tourism and restaurants at 10%.
In contrast, only 3% of men have experience in the healthcare sector.
The sectors most demanded by women are customer service, healthcare, and tourism and restaurants
The gender gap in employment sectors
The sectors with the most gender equality were design and graphic arts (51% men, 49% women); finance and banking, and tourism and restaurants (45% men, 55% women); and marketing and sales (44% men, 56% women).
The two sectors with the greatest inequality were engineering and technical fields, and information technology and telecommunications. Men represented over 80% of both.
However, despite the predominance of men in these sectors, there are more work environments where female candidates hold sway. The following fields stand out: healthcare, with 80% women; education and training, with 75%; retail sales, with 73% and customer service and HR, both with 72% women.
Women hold fewer leadership positions
There is also a significant gender gap in terms of job level.
Female applicants predominate in lower-level job offers, while the majority of applicants for higher-level positions are men. Six out of 10 applicants for mid- and high-level positions are men, which shows that the glass ceiling is still a reality in the job market.
The root causes of the gender gap
According to Conxita Folguera, professor in the Department of People Management and Organization at Esade, there are two root causes of the overwhelming majority of men in STEM jobs.
The first is the recurring stereotypes that exist in society and which are transmitted from one generation to the next. The second is the belief that girls have different abilities.
Together, these factors lead girls to believe that they are less well suited than men for STEM careers and that, furthermore, they will have to face insurmountable challenges to reach their goals. As a result, many female students throw in the towel before starting.
Social stereotypes and their own underestimation lead girls to believe they are less well suited for STEM careers
As Folguera points out, the main obstacle to girls’ careers “is not reality, but stereotypes about reality.”
According to Atia Cortés, a researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and participant on the Women in AI panel, underestimation is another reason why many girls “participate less in class and ask fewer questions than boys do.”
Gender equality, key to innovation
During the debate, which took place at the last edition of 4YFN of the Mobile World Congress, Eurecat data scientist Paula Subías defended the importance of women joining design teams “not just for ethical reasons, but also because it translates into the quality of everything we produce,” thus helping to prevent biased industry products and services.
Emma Fernández, former senior vice president of Indra and advisor to several tech companies, pointed out that one solution to the low rate of women STEM professionals is to bring science closer to the youth. “Boys and girls never choose to do things they don't understand,” she explained. To demolish this barrier, she proposes opening university doors to high school students so they can become familiar with the options they’ll have in the near future.
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