Christine Hinson on opportunities for young women in the computer and tech industries.
While the world of IT has a roll call of inspirational female role models – Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Meg Whitman, HP CEO to name but three – women are still hugely under-represented in the computer and technology sectors.
Just 17 per cent of those working in technology in the UK are women, while only 7 per cent of students taking computer science A-level courses are female, according to the British Computer Society and despite significant growth in the number of women working in IT and technology roles, female representation in the tech sector has stalled over the last ten years
However, a report by Nominet claims that the UK economy would benefit from an extra £2.6 billion each year if we increase the number of women working in tech to fill the prevalent IT skills shortage1.
More innovative ideas, improved communication skills and a boost to morale were just some of the benefits of hiring more women, according to the Nominet report.
So, how can we make the sector more appealing to women? We may be in the minority, but this should be celebrated, not made a barrier – much better to focus on what we have to contribute, rather than the fact we are women in a currently male-dominated environment.
We should be strongly promoting the industry to young women, as a career with opportunity, variety – and a much smaller gender pay gap than other sectors; big tech businesses are eager to close the pay gap, with the likes of Intel and Salesforce pledging to pay the same wage to women and men doing the same work. Increasingly businesses are realising that having a workforce that reflects their customer base can be an important asset.
The advent of the Third Industrial Revolution – the increased use of the internet, robots and AI (artificial intelligence), especially in the field of manufacturing – should be seen as an incredible opportunity for not only businesses in Sandwell, but in particular the borough’s young women. This is their chance to be part of this digital future, and perhaps the best advice I could give them is not to let statistics and prejudice deter them from pursuing their aspirations. If you are good at what you do, and display true passion for your chosen field, you will succeed.
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The writer is Director of IT & Communications at SIPS Education Ltd and a Sandwell Business Ambassador.