How many women work in technology in the UK?
A lot has been written about male domination in the tech world. Many tech companies are run by men, and female role models are few and far between but how many women actually work in technology in the UK?
According to a STEM Woman 2023 report women make up just 24% of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce in the UK (WISE UK data). In technology professions, women hold only 17% of positions and in engineering roles, women make up just 10% of the workforce.
According to TechNation women only account for around 26% of people working in IT. Whilst this is an improvement from the 2019 figure of 19%, there is still a lot of work to be done.
A Women in Tech Survey 2023 states there may be several reasons as to why women are put off entering the technology industry including a lack of confidence, gender pay gap and male domination.
According to a PWC report “Women in Tech: Time to close the gender gap’ females aren’t considering technology careers as they aren’t given enough information on what working in the sector involves and also because no one is putting it forward as option to them.
TechUK outlined “the main reason for large gender disparity in the tech industry occurs years before the first day on the job.” Not enough girls are studying the subjects in further education to lead them organically into STEM careers. Fewer girls are picking STEM subjects at school due to it being seen as a male-dominated subject which can be off-putting. After GCSE’s only 35% of females choose to study STEM subjects, with this decreasing to 25% of females choosing to study them at university.
So how are we going to reduce the stigma around STEM education and why should we?
*It is important to note a STEM degree doesn’t necessarily mean a successful tech career and the tech industry should not close themselves off to only considering graduates otherwise they will miss out on a wealth of talent. Many CTO’s and CIO’s did not get a STEM degree and instead got their breaks into the tech industry through work placements*
The top 6 reasons why Women in Technology is important.
Technology is a fundamental part in everything we do, and therefore it is important that women have as much of a say in its evolution as men do.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Having more women in the tech industry promotes diversity and ensures that a broader range of voices and ideas are represented. This leads to more innovative and inclusive solutions being developed that cater to the needs of a diverse user base.
- Economic Empowerment: Encouraging women to pursue careers in technology can have a positive impact on their economic empowerment. The tech industry offers numerous opportunities for high-paying jobs and career advancement. By closing the gender gap in tech, we can help address the gender pay gap and create more economic opportunities for women.
- Closing the Gender Gap: By actively promoting and supporting women in tech, we can work towards closing this gap. This includes providing equal access to education, training, and job opportunities, as well as creating supportive and inclusive work environments that encourage women to thrive and excel in their careers.
- Role Models and Inspiration: Having visible women in tech serves as inspiration for future generations. When girls and young women see successful women in tech, they are more likely to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and careers themselves. Increasing female representation in tech helps break down stereotypes and encourages more women to enter the field.
- Innovation and Problem-Solving: Gender diversity fosters creativity and innovation. Different perspectives, experiences, and approaches to problem-solving contribute to the development of more robust and effective technologies. By increasing the number of women in tech, we tap into a broader pool of talent and ideas, leading to better outcomes and more inclusive products and services.
- Addressing Bias and Algorithms: Without diverse teams working on these technologies, there is a risk of perpetuating existing biases and inequalities. By including more women in the tech industry, we can reduce bias and ensure that technology is developed in a way that is fair and equitable for all.
What is being done to improve how many women work in technology in the UK?
Organisations are slowly starting to recognise the benefits of employing more women in technology but as a society we must work harder to push through the unconscious bias of recognising these roles as masculine and remove barriers for girls wanting to enter the technology industry.
The UK, like many other countries, has been working to increase gender diversity in the technology industry. Efforts are being made to address the gender imbalance in the UK tech industry to increase the number of women entering and thriving in technology-related fields.
Change takes time. Dave Gibbs, STEM computing and technology specialist at the National STEM learning Centre and Network said: “We need to start now to inspire young women to study computing and technology throughout their school careers, and then go on to apprenticeships and degrees in these subjects. Take up of the new computing GCSE has not been as high among girls as among boys, and we need to challenge young women to think about going into a career in tech – with all the rewards this could bring them.”
While we agree this will have a positive impact, we want young people to realise that you don’t necessarily need to study STEM subjects or even complete higher education to get into the tech industry. For example, there a lot of opportunities to get into tech via apprenticeships and work experience. If you have already completed your studies and did not study a STEM subject or complete higher-level education please do not rule yourself out.
The National STEM Learning Centre and Network, BCSWomen, GirlGeeks, the WISE campaign, Cambridge AWISE, Women in HPC and TechUK Women are all excellent information sources for women eager to understand and engage with the technology industry.
#techmums is another fantastic organisation, which was set up to teach mums a range of tech skills and to take the mystery out of technology. Dr Sue Black, founder and CEO of the #techmums social enterprise, said: “Many mums don’t realise that they are sorely needed in the tech workforce. Project management, organisation, social and community skills and so much more are a large part of being a mum and also extremely valuable to organisations. Several of our mums have gone on to get jobs after completing the #techmums program.”
The PWC UK research report ‘Women in Tech: Time to close the gender gap’ outline four steps to take:
- The technology industry could play a greater role in educating students about technology and how it’s shaping the world we live in. The key is to ensure that technology is presented to girls as a potential career choice by people in positions of influence. Educating and inspiring all students about technology careers at a much younger age will help to future-proof young people with the skills needed and help to build a rich talent pipeline.
- As well as awareness, we need to increase access to technology careers. Approaches might include increasing the availability of apprenticeships in technology, technology companies partnering with universities and offering shadowing and work experience opportunities at younger ages.
- You can’t be what you can’t see: The importance of visible role models at all levels. We need to shout louder about the role models already working in tech and work harder to promote more women to top positions in the industry is that they become more visible.
- Help women to reach their full potential in the industry. Technology organisations could set themselves gender targets and a programme of initiatives to support women to advance to more senior positions. This could include reverse mentoring, return to work schemes to get women into technology roles following career breaks and sponsorships programmes for high performing females.
Nine23 are committed to making a positive change and helping get more women in technology.
We are proud to have an inclusive workforce including our leadership team, but this not just a tick box exercise for us, we are not hiring women just because ‘we should’ but we are hiring men and women who have the potential, skills, talent, and experience.
Our next commitment is to interview three generations of women in technology to continue this conversation and hopefully educate and encourage more young females to enter the tech industry.