The UK tech sector currently finds itself in the position where only 16.8 percent of the total workforce is female, and an alarming one million women must be hired into the sector to reach gender parity. This is a crazy, and largely depressing, statistic. So how has the industry gotten to this position and how can we solve it?
Why aren’t women choosing tech careers?
Starting from the beginning is the issue of education and learning. Recent research found that 25 percent of women surveyed stated that they didn’t study technology (or tech-related subjects such as math, science, etc.) because they didn’t think they could do it. In addition to this, 32 percent of women who aren’t currently working in the IT industry when questioned felt they didn’t have the correct qualifications.
Now, you may be thinking that people are never 100% qualified for a role, but they still apply. This is true, however, a recent study states that men will apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications required, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.
Graph to show analysis around male vs. female application differences
This research has been further explored, showing women are generally more compliant with requirements when applying but are also less confident in their ability to perform the job to a high level.
How can the industry encourage more women into the sector?
Change the perception of what the tech industry is about
Robertson Sumner has found that a lot of people, both male and female from outside of the technology industry, perceive IT positions as needing technical qualifications from day one and just generally being very technical. This simply isn’t the case as there are numerous areas within the IT sector that don’t require a computer science degree or an overly technically-minded brain. These areas include:
- Operational positions
- Administration/Sales Support
It is important to improve education from an early age, teaching individuals what technology can offer as a career. Training up teachers as well as parents to break any potential gender stereotypes and encourage more young girls to study technology related subjects. Parents are incredibly important, as when asked who are the main influencers in career choices, 46 percent of respondents said family.
Networking and mentoring opportunities
In order to attract more woman into the IT world, there needs to be more opportunities for successful women to pass on their experiences. Providing platforms for women to become role models for the future generation is absolutely crucial. There are mentoring groups like Girls in Tech UK changing this and bespoke female only awards like CRN’s Woman in Channel Awards to celebrate success, but still much more can, and should, be done.
Why we need more women in the IT sector
Firstly, there are several big stats showing that companies with a larger proportion of women vastly outperform more male dominated businesses. One big example is how Fortune 500 companies who the highest representation of women on their board outperform companies with the lowest female representation by 42% return on sales. There is also a proven benefit of having a female dominated team when valuing a business!
Apart from the simple fact that gender diversity is good for the bottom line of any business, there are also huge cultural benefits of having a mixed gender team, increasing both employee satisfaction as well as engagement.
There is no better time than NOW to act!
It is vital that the IT industry acts on this and there is no better time than now, simply because the longer the sector waits the further behind the competing industries it will fall. Gender disparity is a known and well publicised issue so the time to act to combat this is NOW therefore ensuring there is future female talent!