“Although Bulgaria is one of the leading countries in Europe in terms of employment of women in the IT industry, we are still far from achieving balance,” says Maria Atanasova, Human Capital Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Progress and part of the leading team of the company in Bulgaria. More than 1.3M people are studying Information and Communication Technologies in the European Union, still, only 17% of them are girls and women. In Bulgaria, the number is significantly higher – 31%, and the country ranks third after Belgium and Romania.
In an attempt to stimulate more women to join the sector, the tech company Progress has just announced it’s launching the Women in Technology Fund for students at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG). The fund of $12K will be distributed in the form of scholarships for young women pursuing a degree in Computer Science, Information Systems and Mathematics. The initiative is part of Progress’s global strategy for inclusion and diversity – Progress for Tomorrow, supporting the diversity of talent in business and attracting more women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“To be successful, companies need a variety of talent – people with different experiences, perspectives, and skills. With the launch of the Women in Technology Foundation and our partnership with AUBG, we aim to help expand this talent by motivating more young women to choose IT for their careers,” adds Atanasova.
Who is it for
Progress scholarships are open to girls in the second, third and fourth year of their study at AUBG who have outstanding academic achievement and extracurricular activities in technology, math, and programming. The fund is a continuation of the independent scholarships promoting women’s professional development in technology, which Progress launched in 2019. Diana Radkova, a computer science student at AUBG, is one of the first recipients.
“The Progress Fellowship has shown me that the IT industry values women’s talent and that I have a place in it,” says Diana Radkova, who was one of the first recipients of the scholarship last year. “Thanks to this opportunity, I can now dedicate myself entirely to gaining new knowledge and developing new skills that will help me in my future career development,” she adds.
Progress’s partnership with AUBG dates back to 2013. Since then, the company has invested close to $100K in scholarships and 24 students have benefited from them.
The degree’s relevance for the career path
The numbers show that the ratio of female students in tech-related fields is good. Still, there’s one more relevant number – how many of these women graduate and actually pursue a career in technology. The numbers in Bulgaria are also good. Indeed, in Bulgaria, women accounted for 28.3 % of ICT specialists in 2018 (the latest available data), which is the highest percent among the EU member states. Women also accounted for close to one-quarter of all ICT specialists in Lithuania and Romania, and for one fifth or more of all ICT specialists in Estonia, Sweden, and Finland.
In Bulgaria, there are also several active communities that aim to stimulate more women to pursue careers in the tech sector. For example – the Bulgarian Center for Women in Technology, which was establish back in 2012, the daily new Women Tech Network, and also the well known informal communities, such as Coding Girls. In the past several years, more and more tech and digital corporations join the wave of supporting women to choose and grow within the tech sector.