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.