Two sides of the coin
Tech industries offer a great opportunity for young people – or even those looking for a new career direction
Tech is at the heart of most industries; manufacturing, finance, transport, medicine, creative arts, retail, government and so on. Demand for skills is greater than supply, it is well paid employment and offers opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to create massive wealth.
Women were instrumental in building the industry, both as leading intellectual and engineering pioneers and as the workforce that made the industry tick.
Why, now, does the industry face a skill shortage fuelled by a gender imbalance and how is it going to fix it?
The percentage of women in computer science will have dropped from 37% in 1995 to a predicted 22% in 2022.
Why aren’t more girls in the UK choosing to study computing and technology?
As the proportion of girls taking these subjects remains low, teachers reveal why they believe that is and what they’re doing about it. See full article.
Amongst the reasons that come up in surveys of girls and women not in STEM and computing, the lack of role models is often mentioned, along with misconceptions about the nature of the work. Sexism or negative environments are cited but there are many examples of women who have proved that these barriers can be overcome…
Women leading the field
Sherry Coutu CBE is a serial entrepreneur, Angel investor and Non-executive director based in Cambridge, UK and originally from Canada. She started Interactive Investor in 1995 to create an online service and remove the frustration of looking at obsolete, out of date pieces of paper to understand mortgages. Sherry has since gone on to invest in approximately 50 companies, including household names, such as New Energy Finance, Lovefilm, and Zoopla.
In 2015 Sherry was voted one of the most inspiring women in Europe and named one of the most philanthropic entrepreneurs in the UK.
Sarah Bond, Corporate Vice President, Xbox, has experienced barriers and breakthroughs as an African American woman in the gaming sector. She believes that diversity of creators is hugely important to ensure diversity of content, creating space for new games and creativity to flourish.
Professor Liz Bacon is a Professor of computer science, Deputy Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Abertay University, Scotland.
Liz was one of 30 women chosen for the BCS Women in IT Campaign in 2014, and featured in the book “Women in IT: Inspiring the next generation” produced by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Liz was President of the BCS from 2014-2015 and used her term to look at how to encourage more women into computing having seen the numbers of women in the sector drop from when she trained.
Jacqueline de Rojas, President at techUK and Digital Leaders uses her influence to inspire kids into digital and encourage more young women to join the tech sector. Jacqueline is an advocate for diversity in the boardroom and is a founder of the 30% Club.
Jacqueline’s accolades include: Most Influential Woman in IT 2015; Debretts 500 People of Influence – Digital: 2016; Computer Weekly Hall of Fame; and Europe’s 50 most inspiring female business leaders.
She was awarded a CBE for services to technology in international trade in 2018.
Find your opportunity
What is being done to encourage more females into the industry and increase diversity for all?
“So, technology is your space… Initially it was seen as a woman’s thing anyway. Somehow, we’ve let the boys in and they’ve kind of taken over…. we kind of all need to be pulling on this together.”
Professor Sue Black started #techmums as she saw the need for positive female role models in tech as a way of influencing the younger generation.
“I found out that, the main positive influencing factors on kids at age eleven in literacy and numeracy in their achievement, was their mum’s education and the home environment.”
#techmums supports mothers to become more familiar and confident in using technology in their personal, professional, and parenting life.
The Institute of Engineering and Technology have support for all stages of learning in STEM subjects from teaching resources, to apprenticeships and career advice and even Lego Leagues!
Digilearning run the #GIRLRISE programme to support young women to develop a career in business.
The 30% Club’s global mission is “to reach at least 30% representation of all women on all boards and C-suites globally.”
Tech She Can is a charity committed to changing the ratio of women in technology. Archives of IT are one of over 200 signatories supporting the Tech She Can Charter to increase the number of women working in technology roles in the UK. It aims to tackle the root cause of the problem by inspiring young women into tech careers and sharing best practice across the organisations involved.
Diversity in tech and its role in future equality – a report by mthree.
Becs Roycroft, Senior Director at mthree, commented: “The technology industry is thriving, however, when you consider the diversity problem tech and many other sectors are currently experiencing, addressing the gender imbalance by looking at young people’s motivations for when they chose a career, can go some way to resolving the problem. Our research findings are a further reminder of how, to attract women to pursue careers in the sector, recognisable role models and positive representations of women in the industry, are essential.” Read the full report here.
The BCS Diversity Report 2020 features the latest ONS figures on gender, age, ethnicity and disability in the IT industry. Read the full report here.