What is digital inequality

BM Schramböck: Fair through the digital world Current study on "Digital Inequality" underscores measures - 2 million euros for the second call for proposals in the FFG program "Laura Bassi 4.0 - Creating equal opportunities for digitization"

Digitization is permeating more and more areas of society and opening up many opportunities. "It is a central concern of mine that we navigate fairly through the digital world and that existing inequalities in society are not increased but rather reduced by new technologies. We want to shape digitization with and for everyone," said Digitization Minister Margarete Schramböck with Blick to the present study "Digital inequality: how it arises, what it does ... and what helps against it". The study, which is aimed at companies and technology developers, uses examples to show how they can take countermeasures and make their products more inclusive and thus more innovative and customer-oriented. A current measure is the program "Laura Bassi 4.0 - Designing Digitalization Equal Opportunities" of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). The call for proposals is open, two million euros (funds from the National Foundation with the support of the BMDW) are available. The program is aimed at SMEs who want to help shape an equitable digital future.

"Through our Laura Bassi 4.0 program and the 'Laura Bassi 4.0 - Digitization and Equal Opportunities' network, we bring together those who want to develop new solutions and innovations together and thus increase innovation skills, capacities and output," said the two FFG managing directors Henrietta Egerth and Klaus Pseiner. In the "Laura Bassi 4.0" program, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and innovation networks with a focus on project activities at the interface between digitization and equal opportunities are promoted. As part of the Laura Bassi 4.0 network, workshops with stakeholders from business, science, administration and civil society will be held from autumn 2020. The network supports and coordinates experimental pilot activities in various thematic areas and is being set up by the FFG in cooperation with ÖGUT (Austrian Society for Environment and Technology) and Joanneum Research as well as the Federal Ministry for Digitization and Business Location (BMDW).

To the study "Digital Inequality"

Siri or Alexa, who react understandingly to humorous to sexual innuendos from men - clearly negative to those from women. Self-driving cars that wheelchair users do not recognize. Job algorithms that automatically rank women behind in technology jobs. Or smart homes that can only be operated by technicians: "Many examples show that digital technologies are not neutral products," explains study author and Joanneum Research researcher Sybille Reidl, "but reflect their perspective that they developed ". And these are largely younger and technically educated men: only around 18 percent of information and technology specialists are women, according to a figure from the study "Digital Inequality", which was carried out on behalf of the FFG by Joanneum Research and the ÖGUT (Austrian Society for Environment and Technology).

650,000 "offline users" in Austria

There are also figures and statistics on who has access to information and communication technologies (ICT) in Austria. According to this, around ten percent of Austrians do not use the Internet - that is 650,000 "offline" users. When it comes to supplying broadband connections, there is a strong urban-rural gradient in terms of the available speeds. There are just as big differences according to age and social class: just over half of the 65 to 74 year olds regularly access the Internet (61 percent of men and 47 percent of women). Among the people with a low level of education, 24 percent do not use the Internet; in the highest education segment it is only three percent.

Even if the first successes are already showing in sub-areas - for example in the area of ​​gender - it is still necessary to actively counteract this, emphasizes Minister Schramböck: "Digitally competent employees strengthen the job market and thus domestic companies. And technologies that contribute to equal opportunities and are inclusive are also often more successful economically. " Against this background, initiatives such as Fit4Internet and the "Laura Bassi 4.0" program should be pushed further: "We need strong networks, digital skills and diverse actors in order to shape digital change with equal opportunities," said the minister.

Study "Digital inequality - and what we can do about it":

Information on the 2nd call "Laura Bassi 4.0" (until October 1st, 2020):

Information on the network "Laura Bassi 4.0 - Digitization and Equal Opportunities":


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