At Accessplc, our recruitment professionals spend their time every day helping organisations find the best technology and digital employees. That means we spend most of our time speaking to males. It’s a sad fact, but it is also an incredibly frustrating one.
From a selfish point of view, it would make our job easier if the available technology-related talent pool included greater representation from a group that makes up more than 50 percent of the population! The tech industry would also benefit from operating with a more diverse workforce.
So, how do we solve the gender gap in the tech industry? How do we get more women into digital roles?
1. Start in Schools
Schools are an essential place to start to get more women into tech as the figures don’t look good. Currently, 19 percent of the UK tech workforce are women. That obviously needs to improve, but it is hard to see how when you look at recent graduate statistics. For example, only 15 percent of engineering graduates are female. In computer studies, only 19% of graduates are female.
In other words, there are not enough female graduates coming out of our universities to make any serious impact on the tech sector gender gap. One key solution is to get more girls and young women interested in technology careers, so they choose STEM subjects at university and graduate with the qualifications required for tech roles.
Industry has an important role to play in this effort by, for example, getting involved in schools and helping communicate the possibilities that technology careers offer to everyone, regardless of gender.
2. Eliminate Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias happens when we make decisions and take actions based on stereotypes, prior experience, and personal backgrounds. While these are not deliberate actions, they can have a significant influence on a range of factors, including how women are treated in the workforce.
3. More Female Role Models
If you are asked to name a famous person in the tech industry, most of us would think of a man – Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, etc. This points to another problem in the tech industry – the lack of female role models.
Research by PWC demonstrates the scale of this problem. In a survey of 2,000 university and A-level students, PWC found that 78% of respondents were unable to name a well-known female working in the technology sector.
4. Correct Gender Stereotypes
This point is connected to the unconscious bias point mentioned earlier, as gender stereotypes do impact the technology sector. We can see this in the women in tech research mentioned earlier that was conducted by PWC. Only 16 percent of the females surveyed had technology suggested to them as a potential career path. Of the male respondents, 33 percent received encouragement to consider technology.
Stereotypes like this, where males are often viewed as more suited to technology careers, need to be challenged and actively corrected.
5. Create an Inclusive and Diverse Work Culture
There is a perception that technology companies, teams, and roles are male-dominated. That perception exists because it is often true, so it is important to work to correct not just the perception, but the reality. Part of this involves creating an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.
An inclusive and diverse workplace culture will not only be more welcoming to females but also to other groups currently underrepresented in the tech industry.
6. Fix the Gender Pay Gap
It is important that the technology industry continues to work to understand why there is a continuing gender pay gap and put in place measures to address it. Doing so will help remove one of the obstacles that discourages some women from considering a career in tech, while helping to retain those who are in the industry.
7. Offer Flexible Working
Flexible working arrangements benefit entire workforces, including women. Furthermore, many roles in the technology industry are perfectly suited to flexible working up to and including full-time working from home. As a result, offering flexible working can make the industry more attractive to a wider group of people, including women.
Taking a Proactive Approach
All stakeholders, including us at Accessplc, have a role to play in bridging the gender gap that currently exists in the technology sector. It requires a proactive approach and ongoing commitment, but the rewards are significant for companies, the wider UK technology industry, and everyone who works in it.