This series looks at the issues surrounding gender diversity within the technology sector. What can be done to bridge the gender gap and encourage more women to pursue a career in IT profession?
The UK technology industry is worth around £100bn to the economy, in order to fulfil its potential, tech companies need access to a much greater talent pool. However, this is unachievable if women continue to have such low representation within the industry. As we saw in our previous article Girl POWER there is a number of proven advantages to having a gender diverse workforce. Let’s explore what’s being done to encourage more women to pursue careers within the tech sector.
To improve female participation within the industry we need to ensure the next generation of women are encouraged from an early age to take an interest in IT by developing the skills they need to build successful careers in the industry. Research has repeatedly shown that girls, even as young as 10 years old, tend to lack confidence in their capacity for technology and science subjects. Policy makers and industry organisations must create new stimulating teaching programmes and schemes to make this happen.
In 2013, the British Government backed a ‘call-to-action’ concerning the low numbers of women in STEM industries – they asked organisations to work together to help boost female participation in both technology and engineering by promoting female involvement in vocational pathways and subjects such as maths and physics. This initiative aims to support a step-change in how women and girls are encouraged into technology and engineering careers. If more action like this is taken it can only lead to a brighter future for women in tech.
Internship programmes play a crucial part in opening up opportunities for young people to pursue successful careers. If more tech companies made an effort to create internship programs, maybe even aiming some of these internship programmes specifically at female applicants, this could do a lot to encourage gender diversity in tech.
It is good to see a growing number of industry members taking action with the introduction of programmes and workshops aimed at improving the gender imbalance in the tech sector. An example of this is TechUK who represent the companies and technologies that are defining and shaping our tech industry. TechUK have introduced a Women in Tech Programme that aims to inform those within the industry by raising awareness of the e-skills gap, not just in the UK but across the European community. The project focuses on the critical point, by tackling the gender imbalance in the tech sector, it not only becomes a feasible option, but desirable for women to pursue within the industry.
For generations, the corporate world has adopted a male definition of leadership. This has to change if women are to thrive within the tech industry. Previously in this series, we have seen how women within the industry have begun to take up high profile positions in some of the of techs biggest businesses. Senior women in technology must continue to act as role models for females pursuing careers in the sector. They can do a lot to motivate the next generation by showing them what women in the sector can achieve, in turn, inspire others by sharing the challenges they have faced and overcome on their way to the top.
We have to put gender diversity is on the business agenda. Research shows us there are real benefits, only by investing in the next generation of female tech professionals are businesses guaranteed the resources, skills and ideas they need for future success.
Here’s some useful links you may wish to browse:
10 of the best female role models in tech – in pictures
Girls do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths too
Supporting and raising the visibility of women in technology
GeekGirl Meetup and network, for women and girls interested in all things tech
By Roger Mills, Co-founder of Think IT Recruitment.
As always, if there’s anything in this article you would like to discuss, please start a conversation or get in touch with me.