What will it take to eliminate the gender imbalance in the technology industry?
As the tech industry’s gender imbalance continues, a growing number of organisations have vowed to make a change, as the Tech Talent Charter this week reached a milestone of 200 signatories.
The lack of women found in digital and technology roles remains a persistent problem; just 17 percent of IT workers are female. Furthermore, only one in ten females are currently pursuing an interest in computer science studies and taking the subject at A-Level.
The charter commits members to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce.
Chatelle Lynch, Chief Human Resources Officer at McAfee, told Computer Business Review: “Ultimately, to truly move the needle, diversity – in all shapes and forms – has to be built into every single process, programme and initiative. The future is bright. It’s improving every day, but stats like this show there is still work to do.”
Rolls Royce, British Heart Foundation, Microsoft, Salesforce, Vodafone and all UK Government departments are among the recent members of the charter. Others include Nominet, Monster.co.uk, HP and Fujitsu.
Reaching such a milestone, the Tech Talent Charter strives to tackle the problem by holding a series of events across the country and encourage more women to uptake jobs in the technology industry.
“It’s essential that our tech workforce is diverse and inclusive if we are going to address the digital skills gap and make use of the widest range of talent possible,” Eleanor Bradley, COO at Nominet, said in a statement. “This is not just a problem for Government or big business; change involves us all pulling together to ensure everyone recognises the tech industry as a place they can belong.”
Diversity is a Business Imperative
Lynn Collier, COO UK&I of Hitachi Vantara, spoke with Computer Business Review around the benefits of diversity in the industry and why it is so important the Tech Talent Charter pushes to minimise the gender imbalance.
“Diversity in the workplace, regardless of sector, is not just beneficial; it is a business imperative,” Collier said. “A diverse workforce develops a fusion of unique ideas, experiences and points of view. In short, diversity equates to creativity and, in a world reliant on constant innovation, the technology sector is certainly no exception.”
“There is a lot of work still to be done to promote technical jobs as enticing career options for young women. Women who have already forged successful and fruitful careers must set the example for those that follow and we must collectively strive to combat the misconception that ‘tech is just for boys’”, she added.
In order to successfully diminish the gender imbalance the technology industry is facing, experts from the industry have agreed that educating and exposing individuals to the possibilities technology offers is one of the key ways to achieve success.
“I believe a key driver behind the decline in females pursuing STEM careers is down to early exposure,” Lynch told Computer Business Review. “We need to better educate young females about what a career in STEM could provide them and one of the most effective ways of doing this is through role modelling. When we see and identify with people similar to ourselves it creates those incredible “that could be me moments” and has the potential to be truly career defining.”
The Future of Women in Tech
“Last November we promised to grow our membership, to break outside the London “bubble” and to focus on action over talk to move the dial on diversity in tech,” Debbie Forster, CEO at Tech talent Charter, said. “We are delighted to have doubled in size [since then] and to have hosted our first event on helping small companies and start-ups to recruit more women into tech roles. This event will help us continue to connect the dots, rather than re-inventing the wheel.”