Address by H. E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Conference ‘Women in Science, Innovation and Technology in the Digital Age’
7 March 2011, Vilnius
Distinguished Participants of the Conference, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In order to foster innovations and economic growth in the EU, we have to put aside stereotypes and fill the gender gaps.
There are three main issues that I want to put up for the discussions:
First, an integrated approach regarding gender gaps is needed at the EU level.
EU policies on gender equality and empowerment should be stronger interlinked. The European Institute for Gender Equality and the European Centre for Women and Technology must cooperate more and produce joint results.
Secondly, we have to eliminate the gender gap in science and technology because this is directly linked with high economic competitiveness.
Women in science and technology are still in minority. The implementation of equal opportunities in sciences is a relevant part of the European Union innovation strategy.
Lithuanian statistics illustrate the relevance of the issue. According to Eurostat, more than ninety two percent of Lithuanian women have secondary or higher education. This is the best score in the EU.
But the proportion of female full professors in the field of sciences and technology is only 4.9 percent in Lithuania.
No woman holds rector's position and only one has been recognized as full member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. This is a common problem in the European Union.
So, there is a glass ceiling here, and we have to put all our effort to break it. We need a concrete action plan for that.
My third topic is on stereotypes: specifically, on overestimated male success in the information technologies professions. It is obvious that here we need to put more efforts and take effective actions in improving e-skills regardless of gender and profession.
The information and communication technologies sector is one of the key drivers of the European economy.
By 2015, 90 percent of all jobs, across all sectors, will require the use of information and communication technologies. To speed up the EU as Innovation Union we have to recognize and revise our stereotypes and also encourage an increased engagement of young women in information technology studies and careers.
It is also of great importance to integrate e-skills into all education levels, all subjects, and all study programs.
Before I conclude, I would like to inform you about my personal initiative to invite world women leaders to be role-models/ and actively engage in solving gender gap problems.
A high-level world women leaders meeting on gender issues will be held in Vilnius on June 30 this summer. The meeting will highlight Lithuania's Presidency of the Community of Democracies, and it will provide an excellent opportunity to continue the discussion about women's engagement and leadership.
Thank you for your attention.