Did you know that currently, only 17% of employees in the UK technology sector are women? With a market that is now worth an estimated £18bn, the UK tech sector is said to be growing 2.6 times faster than the overall economy.
We often forget that some of our earliest programmers were women. Looking back, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was the world’s first computer programmer, followed by many other women in tech who influenced the world of programming today, with 75% of those who participated in the Bletchley Park codebreaking operation during world war 2 being women.
Today, the number of women in the computer programming sector massively outnumbered by men. With equality in the workplace often trending over the past few years, why aren’t the number of women in tech growing with this exposure?
According to ‘women in tech’, Only 7% of students taking computer science A-level courses are female. Just half of the girls that study IT & Tech subjects at school go into a job in the same field. This has lead to an increasing demand for women in IT - with a large number of tech companies chasing a small pool of highly skilled female IT workers in their attempts to help reduce the widening gap of unfilled tech and stem roles.
Focusing purely on hiring women won’t be enough to combat the gender gap in IT skill in the near future. We need to look at the root of the problem. As employers, we can encourage women to pursue a career in IT and attempt to bridge the gender gap by:
A prime example: In 1967, Cosmopolitan Magazine urged their fashionable female audience to consider careers in programming. In an article titled “The Computer Girls,” the magazine described the field as offering better job opportunities for women than many other professional careers. We need to hit the headlines by utilising marketing to reach the women out there who may be a natural born programmer - and don’t even know it yet!
When a woman is employed in the IT industry there can be resistance and bias from all-male teams (although mostly unconscious) which can slow down their career progress - don’t be that guy! Not every woman would want to be the only female on a team either, however, as the numbers of women in tech grow, we can all gain from a male-female balance in the workplace.
By providing the opportunity for remote working and flexible working hours (which this industry already promotes more than any other) this will be an attractive benefit for women who want to have healthy work-life balance and spend more time with their families.
Sponsor women who may not have the confidence to pursue their career in programming, or that female tech community or meet-up you come across online - help them grow and in turn they will help you grow your workforce.
We need to be mindful and provide opportunities for the women who are willing to learn - from education right through to adult training courses. Look out for interested individuals and take the opportunity, be proactive and search for those who may not have the confidence to step forward.
In terms of attracting female tech talent, improve your values and incentives to retain happy staff: Great employees flourish when they are trained, encouraged and supported to problem solve, innovate and be supportive to others throughout their career. By re-thinking your sourcing techniques and the way you market them - we may be looking at a brighter future for all budding female programmers.
Thanks to Kelsey Anne Brown for her contribution to our blog this week!
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