Industry Commentary - 3 min read

Women in tech (not an oxymoron)

AUTHOR Lou Crane

DATE Mar 2021

CATEGORY Industry Commentary

Hello, I’m a woman and I’m in tech.

I’m not sure how I’d feel if I was just coming out of education today and assessing my chances in the industry. I’d probably feel intimidated and carry the imposter syndrome heavily on my shoulders.

We’re not really taught or encouraged to take risks and expose our fears. It’s widely acknowledged that girls and women have to be almost 100% convinced they are worthy of an opportunity to give it a go. So, is this the only thing stopping more females taking up the challenge?

Sadly, no. There are barriers at every juncture and some more systemic than others.

*In 2020 there were more science A-levels awarded to girls than boys but only 14% take up Computing A level despite such high demand for these skills in the workplace.
*Only 17% of the workforce in tech are women. That’s so low and has increased less than 2% in 10 years
*Only 16% of FTSE 100 companies achieved the 33% target for women on the board

So, from school where girls are earning better grades in physics and computing at A level than boys, to very few women being employed in the biggest growing global industry, what’s going wrong?

I don’t think the answer is in one particular stage of life. The pinch points are happening right along the line. We need to recognise that women’s work skills are transferable. Technology is not some dark art that requires everyone to be super-hot at coding. The roles are diverse and opportunities to shape a great career are there, but we need to encourage women to take a chance. Importantly though, we need to change the internal culture. There’s still a games, beer and banter ‘benefit’ to the industry which many women just aren’t interested in and frankly, who says what the culture should be? Maybe more female role models can influence company culture, help women to rise from within and hire people based on more than code-ability. HR, IT, Engineers and Finance departments should look carefully to the needs of a role and use inclusive terms, non-gender influencing and benefits that benefit women. We still need coders as well and I find it fascinating to think how businesses might evolve if women were software influencers.

Tech is an odd one. Just 65 years ago, women were the coders but as soon as the industry started to boom and the money rolled in, the roles were flipped and women were pushed back into the office with the paper.

Fortunately, in 2021 I feel listened to and respected but this isn’t everyone’s story and I want to ensure that women of all ages are given a chance. So let’s help in whatever small way we can to put women back into this innovative, creative, fascinating and business-changing industry.