Women in Technology – Are We About To See a Boom?


Following the Government’s commitment to help women into work, pledging that women will represent 25% of non-executive boards by the end of 2015, as well as a focus on school curriculums to develop more STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills, especially for girls, and from a young age, women in technology remains a hot topic.

A Fall in the Number of Women in Digital Industries

A report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found 27% of those working in the UK’s digital industries are female (that’s down from 33% in 2002, but expected to rise to 30% by 2022). There doesn’t seem to be a solid answer to explain the drop over the last twelve years, and as Aoife Ni Luanaigh, one of the UKCES’s report creators states, the drop is despite “a number of quite good initiatives that are already happening, to encourage more girls at school to take up coding, or to get involved with computer clubs and so on”.

Educating the Younger Generation

While being interviewed about being ‘a woman at the top’, Egnyte CSO Isabelle Guis also commented on education, “I believe a major reason that we are seeing more men than women working in the technology industry is education. There are fewer women in technology graduate programmes and in the marketplace because STEM subjects are still perceived by some to be ‘male’ subjects.”

A report by Gartner backed up these findings and opinions showing the number of female chief technology officers across the industry has remained static at 14% for the past 10 years. Further to this only 4% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women.

Raising Awareness of The Opportunities

The BBC, across Radio 4, BBC3 and other platforms, have recently been featuring women in tech and bringing the discussion into the public eye, and there are a number of organisations around the world championing women in technology. So, despite the disheartening figures there is a lot of action to change things for the future of women in technology.

The organisation Code First: Girls, who work with companies to help get more women into tech had, over the last 18 months, 1500+ young women participate in one of their courses or events, helping companies to recruit better tech talent into their firms.

Transparency in Job Descriptions

Vanessa Vallely, founder of women’s network WeAreTheCity explained how greater transparency could be the key to attracting more women into tech roles. For example, knowing if they are to be paid the same as others currently doing the same or similar roles. She also spoke about job descriptions, explaining that underlying masculine language can be off putting for women. She said “I would urge, if you are writing job descriptions, make sure they are good, make sure they excite people and make sure they tell them what the job is.” Vallely also spoke about a number of banks which, she said, pass new job descriptions through a female focus group before they are advertised, helping to soften the language used.

The Benefits of Female Leaders

The benefits of having a more gender balanced company are endless, and the attributes women can bring to the workplace are valuable. According to the Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report, organisations with more than 10% of women at the helm had higher returns than those that weren’t gender balanced. To back this up First Round Capital, recently released a report highlighting that businesses with female founders (or co-founders) performed 63% better than those with male leaders.

An Exciting Future

All great news for women who want to join, or develop further in, the technology sector, and also great news for businesses who want to create a more balanced and apparently, more productive team.  Perhaps negative figures that have been released over the last few years relating to women in technology has been the extra push to encourage individuals and organisations to put the steps in place to open the doors to more female digital employees, and we wonder whether 2016 could be a boom year for women in technology.




Latest UK Employment Figures Highlight Continuing Skills Shortage


This month the Office of National Statistics released the UK’s latest employment figures. Many experts have commented on some of the key statistics, the potential implications of the rises and the falls, and what it means for the labour market and technology sector. So here’s our summary of the important facts and figures.

This ONS report shows figures for May to July 2015.

  • There were 1.74 million people working full-time, 361,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • There were 1.82 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 10,000 more than for February to April 2015 but 198,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 5.5%, unchanged compared with February to April 2015 but lower than for a year earlier (6.2%).

So, compared to last year the number of people in employment is up and the unemployment rate is down – that’s good, right? Well yes, but there still continues to be a record number of job positions being posted and a large volume of candidates applying for these jobs, yet still 1.82 million people unemployed. One theory to explain this problem, is the ever discussed ‘skills shortage’, or perhaps more accurately a mismatch of skills, between available candidates and the expectations of employers.

15% of Employers Reported That They Had Employees With Skill Gaps

One recent piece of research reported that in the last year 83% of CFOs had to offer salaries above what they were originally prepared to, in order to secure the right candidate for the job, with the right skills. The Employer Skills Survey’s most recent data also found that “15% of employers reported that they had employees with skill gaps, equivalent to 1.4 million staff or 5% of the workforce.” And it’s important to point out that this is only what is reported, many employees are unlikely to admit to, or possibly even recognise, skills gaps. All of this data and evidence builds a strong case for the fact that the skills gap is a long-term problem that the country is facing.

Employers Invest £42.9bn in Training

KPMG’s ‘Report on Jobs’ for August found that the demand to fill permanent tech jobs rose over the summer, as many tech professionals felt confident enough in the market and demand for their skills, that they took the summer off completely! I’m sure there’s plenty in the industry who would contest this view, but it does seem to be true that IT is not the sector most at risk.  Changes and developments in technology can be some of the most significant and fast moving changes that can lead to very specific skills shortages. However, employers invested £42.9bn in training in 2013, and Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD stressed recently, the importance for employers to continue to invest in technology to avoid the prospect of increased skills shortages.

Education is often on the receiving end of complaints about the lack of skills in the UK, however the gap between choices made at school, college or university, and the options once ready for employment, can be vast. Similarly, particularly with ever developing technologies, education policies take time to implement, causing a gap there too.

The UK Population Grew by Almost 8% Between 2004 and 2014

However, it’s also worth noting that the UK population grew by almost 8% between 2004 and 2014, and most growth is down to international migration. The demand for labour is keeping up with the growth in the population well, and this year the average pay for UK workers has risen at its fastest rate for six years.

The figures are, on the whole, positive, however the underlying problems of a skills mismatch can lead to a detrimental effect on how organisations deal with their customers and manage to stay ahead of competition. Also, with more jobs empty, comes stress on other employees and increased workload. We’ll be keeping an eye on the markets and industry trends to follow the developments of the skills shortage debate.