Women in technology – bridging the gap

In the latest blog celebrating the launch of the Tech Future Women’s Network, Karen Price, CEO of the Tech Partnership, speaks about making changes to help get more women working in the technology sector.

There is no quick fix to the lack of women in technology. There’s no simple answer, no magic bullet, no easy win. If there was, we’d have found it by now, given the amount of time and energy the entire sector has devoted to the issue.

So it would be easy to give up. Or at any rate to accept the status quo: salute the women who’ve made it, bemoan the ones that haven’t, but just carry on as before. After all, we can manage well enough.

But women in technology are not quitters. If they were, they wouldn’t have got where they are today. And the men who want to see a balanced workforce are not quitters either. So there’s no question of giving up. And for anyone who is feeling a bit dispirited by the struggle, I think there’s a reason to get behind one final push.

As someone with long experience of the tech sector, I’m starting to see real signs of a shift in attitudes to the ‘women problem’ – at least partly because it’s no longer framed as a women’s problem. There is genuine recognition within the sector that this is a business problem – something that has to be solved not just for abstract reasons of fairness or justice but because of practical, commercial concerns.

Karen Price, CEO, Tech Partnership

After all, Tech Partnership research shows that we need 134,000 new recruits to the sector every year for the next five years. It’s going to be a challenge to fill those spaces by any standard. If we can’t tap into half the population, we’ve doubled the challenge instantly. And business leaders are increasingly aware that to get the best out of their workforce, they have to provide a supportive, open and creative environment – something that’s hard to do without a natural proportion of women.

So there’s a real commitment to changing things, at the highest levels in business and government. And there’s an understanding that if we can’t provide one single, simple answer, we can as a sector provide a thousand smaller ones. By all getting out there and doing what we can, we can make a significant difference.

The Tech Partnership, together with Apps for Good and Capgemini, has established up the TechFuture Women’s Network to focus on the entry level to the sector – young women and girls at school or university who are making decisions that will affect their career futures. There are other things that could be done further up the career ladder, of course, but employers see the entry level as the point where they can make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time.

The TechFuture Women’s Network is a great example of people getting together to change things. It’s an opportunity for women to talk to girls and younger women about the opportunities available to them, and to provide them with inspiration and guidance, in whatever way feels most comfortable to them. Whether it’s supporting a TechFuture Girls club, becoming an Apps for Good expert, or something else altogether, it’s all good.

And by getting out there you’ll probably find yourself inspiring some boys and young men as well. Which is all good too – because the biggest win of all is a sector that’s attracting the brightest and best people, whoever they are.

Join the TechFuture Women’s Network today and help inspire young girls and boys to explore STEM subjects