How to achieve greater gender equality in the Serbian ICT sector

April 5, 2024

Kristina Nikolić presenting the “Women in Serbia’s ICT Sector” report

Photo: Haos Community Space

UNDP Serbia and UNDP Accelerator Lab’s report on “Women in Serbia’s ICT Sector” was presented on March 15 at the Women in Tech Breakfast, organized by Haos Community Space, to more than fifty industry attendees. 

The report, authored by Zoja Kukić and Valentina Čolić Mihajlović, brings not only the latest data on the state of women within the Serbian ICT Sector, but also actionable insights on how this booming industry can be made more equitable. The research, presented by UNDP Serbia Accelerator Lab’s Head of Experimentation, Kristina Nikolić, seeks to understand why women make up less than a quarter of local ICT employees. Our focus was on the obstacles they face in education and culture. 

Blanka Šupe, the founder of Haos Community Space, moderated the presentation of the report and the Q&A session. The attendees then participated in discussions of critical issues facing women in ICT, such as the gender pay gap, balancing career and family, barriers in STEM education and obstacles in the tech workforce. They were facilitated by several professionals and experts in the field, including, for example, Marija Ilić, President of the Board of the Serbian Gaming Association and co-founder of a video games development company, Two Desperados. Discussions were free to join, allowing attendees to dive in and provide feedback on topics closest to them. 

What made the event especially valuable was that the audience included Serbian ICT professionals as well as expats who shared their experiences and best practice models from other countries. One of the facilitators was Anastasia Abrashitova, Head of repository tools within Yandex, who led the discussion on education. She also provided her experiences from Russia, a country which the report highlights as particularly successful in motivating women in STEM education. 

Discussion of how to bridge the gender pay gap, facilitated by Marija Ilić

Photo: Haos Community Space

One of the breakout groups addressed the topic of motherhood, identified as an important segment in the careers of women in tech. The UNDP Accelerator Lab’s user journey maps created clearly indicate that mothers face stronger barriers in the tech sector. They find it often difficult to adapt to company culture, advance in their careers and even change jobs. Participants exchanged their experiences related to this topic and discussed how they are addressing these issues for the next generation of young women in their teams.

Another focused on bridging the gender pay gap. The participants openly and proactively  shared their experiences on how to negotiate for a promotion or a raise,  how to position oneself in these situations and how to fight for one's right.

The event and the report present an  important step towards greater women's involvement in Serbian ICT, needed to ensure access to a growing industry and highly paid jobs, and to reduce the technological gender divide. In parallel, this will result in more women involved in development of technological breakthroughs and shaping our future. 

Besides this report, which we hope will become a regular publication, the UNDP Serbia Accelerator lab has already devoted considerable efforts to making the ICT industry and STEM fields more broadly, in Serbia and the world, more open to women. We did this by assessing biases in AI representation or by understanding the “leaky pipeline” phenomenon through innovative qualitative and quantitative tools and methods.

We hope that there will be more occasions to present our work and that there will be more initiatives like the Women in Tech breakfast for experience-sharing.