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Commission: forgive student loans for women learning IT

Published onsdag 2 december 2015 kl 19.13
"Getting more females into this field"
(5:43 min)
Photo: Christof Stache / AP Photo / TT
Less than 10 percent of the people who develop technology today are women, according to the commission. File photo: Christof Stache / AP Photo / TT

Women who loan money to study information technology in the future may not have to pay it back, if Sweden's Digitalisation Commission gets its way.

The commission, which presented on Tuesday the fifth in a series of reports to the government, suggested that giving women financial incentives to enter the IT sector could achieve a more even gender balance. Today, more than 90 percent of developers are men, according to Jan Gulliksen, the government appointed investigator, and the commission reasons that there is a shortage of labor power within IT and that bringing more women into the field will benefit the whole society.

For higher education programs within IT in which the gender balance is skewed at 85 percent to 15 percent or even more dramatically, the commission suggests giving financial incentives to students of the less-represented gender. After graduation, student loans for up to six terms would be forgiven. The goal would be reach a gender balance of 70/30, if not better. The commission writes that acceptance of students would still be based on merit, as it is today. 

While higher education in Sweden is generally free for citizens of the EU, it is common to take out student loans in order to pay for living costs while studying.

Issues concerning education and gender only comprised part of the report, however, which also suggested that authorities phase out sending communications via physical mail and switch to digital post as a first choice when communicating with people, in order to to cut down on carbon emissions. However, the commission would want to keep traditional physical post as an alternative for individuals who actively opt into that method.

Among the commission's other recommendations was developing a national strategy for data-driven innovation, which they write is particularly significant for sustainable growth, competitiveness and welfare, and for solving problems to do with climate change and a population where there is a growing quotient of older people.

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