Helen Roughley, marketing manager at The PC Support Group, looks at the subject of women in the tech industry.
It is no secret that the tech industry is very much a man’s world.
In 2017, only 17% of employees in the UK tech sector were female which proves there is still lots to do to encourage women into the sector. Even the best tech organisations are struggling to close the gender gap when it comes to finding appropriately skilled candidates which include Millennials (young person reaching adulthood around the year 2000) and Generation Z (the next generation after Millennials) females, who are our first generation of digital natives. The truth is, while retention is an issue, there are simply fewer women opting for a career in tech.
In particular, one of the biggest headaches for tech leaders today is finding app developers as organisations everywhere are developing their own apps to meet the needs and demands of their audiences as well as to keep ahead of their competition.
According to Elizabeth Gooch, founder and CEO of eg solutions, who pioneered the back-office workforce optimisation market, there are three barriers for girls and women entering the technology sector:
- Gender stereotyping – there is still a perception in schools that boys are better at science and maths and consequently, young girls are put off STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects
- Lack of awareness of careers and role models within the IT sector
- It’s geeky image
Encouraging a passion for STEM subjects in women, and an interest in technology, will have a positive impact on the continued growth and prosperity of the tech sector. Not to mention, the benefit of having a more inclusive working environment. Every piece of research done on diversity in teams demonstrates they outperform and out innovate homogenous teams hands down. The benefits will be an increased female talent pool in the tech sector which will be more representable of the female population.
Research conducted by Debut, a student and graduate careers app, reveals that the UK education system needs to educate females on the positives of entering the STEM industry; and the variety of roles there are out there – whether its video games, programme or app developers, digital marketing or coding as well as many more. By targeting the younger generation, educators and tech companies are creating a new workforce of successful tech executives that will change the perception of the industry. Perhaps a reminder of the inspirational women in tech throughout history would also not go a miss.
Capability is not the issue, rather, it seems that external factors play a bigger role in dissuading women from opting for science-related careers.
The media certainly hasn’t helped encourage females to pursue careers in STEM-related fields with popular sitcoms such as Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd – which has gone on to have 4 series and became a cult television series; where geeky techies are pre-dominantly IT coders.
On a positive note, there are a great number of organisations that aim to get young girls into computer science and engineering and interestingly, the NHS is Britain’s biggest STEM recruiter, according to Indeed.
Careers in the technology industry represent some of the fastest-paced, most interesting, and best-paying careers available. Further – these roles know no boundaries and can be done in any country.
There truly is something for everyone in tech.