In the latest blog in our TechFuture Women series, Doniya Soni, Programme Manager – Skills & Talent Development, at techUK, look at the importance of women’s visibility in the tech sector.
Only 17% of tech jobs in the UK are performed by women, and 23% of London tech firms have no women at all in senior positions. A lack of female applicants makes it difficult for tech businesses to achieve a more even gender balance, and means these businesses miss out on a large proportion of the talent pool. More girls need to be made enthusiastic and confident about pursuing a tech career.
In the context of a growing digital skills gap, this isn’t just a gender issue, but an economic one. Recent estimates suggest that unfilled roles requiring digital skills already cost the UK close to £2bn a year, and the scale of the growing gap over the next decade cannot be underestimated. The UK’s digital economy potential must be matched with a robust and growing talent pipeline to realise the opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in technology in decades to come.
At techUK we strongly believe that having a gender balanced workforce across the IT sector strengthens the sector’s ability to retain its market position as the cornerstone of industry across global markets. By widening the talent pool and bringing in the brightest and best women, the IT sector will continue to thrive and grow in both size and stature.
By encouraging women to enter or return to the tech industry at all levels, we become more robust, more competitive and more innovative. All ingredients needed to kick start and rebalance the UK as the destination of choice for investment.
In order to encourage young women to pursue STEM subjects and go on to careers in the tech sector, there needs to be visibility of Women in Tech to act as role models for young women.
More female role models in tech should put themselves forward and should be championed by businesses and organisations. The Your Life campaign, launched by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP, should continue its commendable work bringing female role models with STEM backgrounds into schools and should make it simple for tech businesses of all sizes to join the campaign. Government should continue its support for the pan-European ‘Inspiring Fifty’ that identifies, encourages, develops and celebrates women in leadership positions within the technology sector. Local authorities with growing tech strengths should amplify events where female professionals explain their STEM career such as those by STEMettes and similar organisations.
Tech businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and schools should collaborate to organise more open days and practice-oriented conferences to show young girls the opportunities digital and tech can offer them.
If Government, Industry and Third sector push these initiatives and champion female role models within the industry, it will be a great stepping stone to encouraging budding young tech stars to pursue their interests and gain an understanding of the diverse roles in the sector. Increasing women’s visibility in tech is an important first step to bridging the digital skills gap in the UK and in addressing the gender issue in technology.
Join the TechFuture Women’s Network here, the first mentoring opportunity available is to become an Apps for Good Expert and help guide young people as they develop their own problem-solving apps.