In February 2017, PwC made a shocking round of discoveries into the psychology of women in tech; only 3% of females see a career in technology as their first choice, while less than a third (27%) would even consider a career in tech, compared to 62% of males. Which is probably why there is a 19% gender pay gap
It is not just those working directly within technology who are affected by the bias; it touches all industries that find themselves associated or supporting the technology industry, including PR. In our industry, where women are well-represented (with 66% of workforce made up of women), the pay gap still stands at 21% because men still retain the monopoly over top level, C-suite positions.
It is evident the problem is not going to solve itself. Technology as an industry is growing over two times faster than the overall economy and according to government statistics the UK’s digital economy contributes £118 billion and employs 1.3 million people.
With such rapid growth comes a number of issues. Employers are struggling to keep up with the rate of change and find candidates with the relevant attributes to plug digital skills gaps. Indeed, a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that £63 billion GDP is lost annually due to a lack of available digital skills.
So how can we highlight the issue, and inspire women into tech to plug the digital skills gap?
Addressing the skills gap
The gender gap and skills gap are inextricably linked, as more women are side-lined from opportunities to enter into technology. As a consequence, we are missing out on a segment of the workforce who are able to close this gap, but have the same education, training and skills as their male peers. The longer it takes to address both of these issues, the greater the void.
We must recognise that we cannot solve these issues separately and one cannot be addressed without consideration of the other. The starting point will be fostering a positive environment for women in technology.
This means sharing best practice, creating female role models, and tackling stereotypes to promote gender equality in technology.
And waiting until women enter the workforce is simply too late. We need to inspire girls to consider technology roles whilst still at school. Promoting visible and relatable role models is a huge part of this, as it gives women a tangible inspiration, something to work towards with the knowledge that it is possible.
And at the same time guiding students through the options. The stereotype might be a career in technology is a career spent coding and problem shooting IT, as critical as these are. But in a post-digital age, technology touches every aspect in our daily routine. And there are new opportunities beyond those traditionally classified as tech. Everything from data scientists to creative designers.
If one needs inspiration, look to the Royal Academy of Engineering and its campaign – This is Engineering. The campaign asked students what they love, whether it be sport, the arts, fashion or science and illustrated how engineering plays its part in their passions.
Tech She Can
The Tech She Can Charter is a similar initiative that brings together like-minded organisations, committed to making a change. It’s an agreement created to increase the number of women working in technology. It aims to empower women and equip them with the tools they need to pursue careers in the technology industry. The Charter also encourages companies to make an impact by driving tangible changes to policy and education.
Tech She Can’s ‘Modern Muse’ platform promotes tangible role models by providing leading women in tech the opportunity to share their story and inspire the younger generations.
I am incredibly proud that LEWIS is pledging its support for The Tech She Can Charter, helping to inspire more women into the field. As technology becomes ever more influential in our lives, the need to promote inclusivity within the industry continues to grow. Inspiring young women to consider technology roles as a career path is imperative to changing mindsets.
Written by Ruth Jones, managing director of agency LEWIS Communications
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