When it comes to the UK tech sector, many still believe that there are no gendered issues to discuss. This is wrong. Today I’m talking about statistics that may well shock you.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that there is “no good excuse” for the lack of women in tech, stating that the tech sector will not reach its potential without more diversity. “I think the essence of technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table,” Cook said, and that diverse views lead to great solutions.
Sam Franklin, CEO at Otta, recently posted on LinkedIn “Women on Otta have a 15% lower minimum salary preference than men”, and that this is true for every level of experience. He makes a point that this is suggestive of deeply embedded bias, and it won’t change unless clear salary ranges on adverts becomes the norm.
Part of the reason men occupy top paying jobs is because of gender stereotypes, like women having to take maternity leave, and that coming back from maternity leave they may be out of the loop and out of date with technologies, ways of working or management styles.
Now for the statistics:
16% of women have had a career in technology suggested to them, as opposed to 33% of men having a career in tech suggested to them.
The attitude toward diversity in the tech sector has only begun to shift in recent years. The gap has been addressed and identified beyond argument. The key to closing the gap is ensuring that young girls understand that there is a future for them in tech, and that their interests and goals can align with a career in a STEM field. It’s also vital that the mentors of schoolgirls understand the cause of this gender discrepancy in the tech sector, and understand that there is a future for women in tech.
78% of students can’t name a famous female working in technology.
“a shortage of female role models is a major barrier – as is a lack of understanding of how technology can enable women to change the world,” says the PWC “Women in Tech gender gap” report. And changing the world for the better is a key motivator for young women too, when students were asked if making the world a better place was a key factor in their career choice, 31% of males agreed, as opposed to 50% of females. Which could be why…
3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice.
A lack of female role models is no doubt a key reason for this staggeringly low number. “I do slightly regret not choosing a STEM subject, but I was put off it at school,” says a university student in the PWC report, “no one encouraged me to pursue it, even knowing that I was very good at it.”
Female role models in the tech sector are not celebrated nor reported on nearly enough, visibility is a key issue here. The tech sector needs to provide an attractive and inclusive working environment, an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity. Studies suggest that diversity increases profitability too.
5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women.
Tech companies have only recently decided to ask themselves the hard questions and act on the information, but progression towards a meaningful change in this statistic is trudging along slower than is acceptable.
88% of women would be drawn towards an organisation that speaks openly about diversity too, and tech companies have only recently begun to make this a priority.
At university, only 15% of engineering graduates are female.
One of the reasons that fewer females are picking STEM subjects is because STEM is a male dominated field. “Knowing that your class is going to be full of boys can be off-putting for girls, especially at secondary school age” says award winning Womenintech.co.uk. Until this number goes up, there will remain much fewer women in tech, and especially in positions of leadership.
If you weren’t shocked before I hope you’re shocked now, it’s simply not good enough to hear these things, shrug, and say “well it is getting better, slowly.”
Every source cited is reputable. I’ll be going over GOV.UK’s own figures and ideas for closing the gender pay gap in the coming weeks.
I want to do everything I can to personally help more women enter the tech sector. If you’re looking for help with your CV, need help prepping for an interview, in need of some career advice, or potentially looking to find a mentor, I’m more than happy to help. You can reach out to me here, or on LinkedIn.
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Terry Brown is an engineer and leader with a passion for people, working across many industries in his 25 year career. He’s delivered digital products for the NHS, for academia,...