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More women needed to European tech

European tech needs to recruit and keep more women

To remain competitive in technological growth and innovation, Europe must recruit and retain women for the fastest-growing tech roles of the foreseeable future, consultancy McKinsey says in a report. To increase the number of women in European tech to 45% by 2027, companies must offer better career possibilities and make them stay in tech.

“European leaders looking to build competitive advantage and growth by addressing their technology gap should consider one fact: women occupy only 22% of all tech roles across European companies.” 

“That’s a stunning statistic at a time when technology underpins so much of the innovation and growth in the world today. Addressing this shortfall is about much more than doing the right thing; it’s an economic necessity.” 


“While the spate of tech layoffs in the face of economic uncertainties ahead has caused companies to rethink their talent strategies, only 7% of the layoffs have been in Europe, according to the State of European tech report for 2022, and the underlying economic fundamentals that rely on tech talent remain in place.” 

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The report says McKinsey analysis shows a tech talent gap of 1.4 million to 3.9 million people by 2027 for EU-27 countries. 

“If Europe could double the share of women in the tech workforce to about 45%, or an estimated 3.9 million additional women by 2027—something we believe is possible—it could close this talent gap and benefit from a GDP increase of as much as €260 billion to €600 billion.”

The report says the current representation of women in tech is particularly concerning because the very roles where women have the lowest share are exactly those that will have the highest demand and impact in coming years. 

While 19% of people in the software engineering and architecture functions overall are women, they are only 10% of the cloud solution architects and 13% of the Python developers, two roles with the highest demand in the job market, according to Eightfold AI analysis.


“Even as a new generation of advanced technologies—from low-code/no-code solutions to generative AI—becomes more common, we anticipate there will continue to be an important need for skilled engineers and developers to not just enhance and maintain those technologies but also develop the next generation of technologies (for example, quantum, Web3, and trust architectures).”

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The report points at four ways to increase the number of women inEuropean tech to 45% by 2027:

1.Enable women in tech to thrive at work

-Companies can increase the number of women in tech roles by 480,000 to one million by ensuring companies, and men in positions of influence, provide women with support so they can thrive today in today’s digital workforce.

Companies should start with a comprehensive plan that actively addresses the pain points and needs of women. Some 70% of women in tech still feel like they need to work harder and prove themselves because of their gender.

Reducing isolation of women in tech roles by ensuring multiple women are working in the same location can help, as does instituting broader support networks, supportive HR policies, and effective sponsorship. 

Active sponsorship—often from men—in the form of advocating for women and opening doors to sponsors’ networks increases the chances that women’s ideas are heard (by 70%) and are likely to be implemented (by 200%).

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Improving flexibility at work can have a profound effect on addressing women’s needs as well. One European entertainment company found that offering a “work from everywhere” policy lowered its attrition rates by 15% and increased women leaders from 25% to 42%.

2. Give women a reason to stay in tech

Over half of women in tech leave the industry by the midpoint of their career—more than double the rate of men—resulting in many fewer women reaching leadership roles. By improving the retention of women, European businesses could increase the number of women in tech by 370,000 to 440,000.

Research shows that women cite two primary reasons for leaving. One is that companies do not provide them with strong management support and/or good opportunities. A recent Integrating Women Leaders Foundation study underscores this issue, finding that while 77% of executive men believe they are active allies for gender equality in their companies, only 45% of women executives agree.

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Addressing this issue is complex, but an important element is developing effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices, such as strong assessment and measurement programs and accountability, and integrating them into the natural flow of business. 

The second issue is that women who aspire to better tech roles often feel they need to change employers. 

3. Ensure women are in tech roles that matter

Companies can increase the number of women in tech roles by as much as 530,000 to 1.8 million by 2027 through a range of practices. These include hiring women from untapped pools, training them in modern technologies (such as agile and MLOps), and building up their tech skills.

While this hiring aspiration represents the top threshold of potential in terms of pure numbers, the greater value is more in the quality of the shift rather than in the quantity of those making it. 

Companies should focus on hiring and training women to assume tech roles that are gaining importance in the marketplace and society, such as product leads, machine learning engineers, and AI experts.

4. Address STEM drop-off in university

Programs supporting women already in university STEM classes can have the most impact. Providing more and better internship opportunities, mentoring and coaching women as they prepare to enter the workforce, and actively recruiting women to work on cutting-edge projects in leadership roles, among other programs, can help increase graduation rates for women in STEM and increase their overall numbers in tech by about 225,000–695,000. 

The report is written by Sven Blumberg, senior partner in McKinsey Düsseldorf office, Melanie Krawina, consultant in Vienna, Elina Mäkelä, consultant in Helsinki and Henning Soller, partner in Frankfurt.

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