Zoe Morris, President, Pearson Frank, discusses why gender imbalances are contributing to the skills gap in the tech sector
Gender disparity in the tech sector is not something that has arisen because of a lack of qualified tech professionals; it’s a problem that runs deep within the industry and calls for businesses to find a long term positive solution.
The industry is currently experiencing a real shortage of professionals—there are more jobs than there are people to fill them. But with many women choosing to avoid the sector completely due to a lack of leadership opportunities and harassment, it’s time for businesses to change their culture.
Gender in the board room shouldn’t matter
The lack of women in leadership roles is a problem in the tech sector that has become increasingly noticeable—and reported on—in the last few years.
Currently, only 14.6% of senior UK tech leaders are women, a number that sits well below other male-dominated sectors, including sport where the recent Women in Sport report identified that women hold 30% of board roles.
This disproportion is further supported in a web, mobile and software developer survey, which shows that fewer than 1 in 10 women work as a developer. Further evidence proving that women in these roles are decreasing in numbers.
Various ‘women in tech’ reports have shown there has been an influx of new talent into the sector over the last five years. If this is the case, and there are more skilled developers on the market, why is there still a gender-diversity and skills gap crisis that the industry needs to tackle.
Close the gap on gender equality
Organisations crave a positive solution to solve the technical skills gap. Sadly there isn’t the capability to solve one problem until they’ve found an active solution to the most pressing of them all, the lack of gender diversity.
Every developer with the right skills and expertise should be afforded the chance to move up the career ladder, but due to several resources, many choose to leave the tech sector within a year of joining.
IT has the stigma of being a male-dominated sector, and this is backed by the fact that only 24% of women have recently graduated from university after studying STEM subjects.
There needs to be more women in tech
Every business that operates within the tech sector needs to break free from the stereotype that has dominated the IT industry for the last 30 years. Organisations need to implement positive solutions, and by discussing the issue with your entire workforce, you should be able to agree a plan of action.
The IT industry is missing out some on the benefits that women can bring to their workforce, and although nine of 10 women would highly recommend a career in the sector, young girls are choosing to divert their path away from tech before fully realising what it has to offer.
This process needs to drastically change if the sector is to become more appealing to young women, and although there are influential figures such as Sheryl Sandberg and Susan Wojcicki who’ve made inroads into addressing this negative perception, the tech sector needs to see a continued wave of role models.
One of the problems facing the sector is the fact many girls who are under 11 are completely unfamiliar with computing. Gender stereotypes show boys have a head start when it comes to STEM subjects, something the education sector will need to address if the skills gap is to close.
The Department of Education also identified that 0.04% of female pupils choose to study computer science beyond the age of 16. But with successful women in the sector crediting early exposure to coding or similar tech as the reason they work in IT, surely this has to change?
Promoting STEM courses at an early age can be truly influential on the career path of both young girls and boys, which considering the lack of highly-skilled talent through all parts of the sector including blockchain and AI, can only be a positive step.
The growth of women in the tech sector also needs to be handled by businesses who currently have female employees looking to increase their skill set and climb the career ladder. By offering people the chance to learn on the job through training and upskilling opportunities, you can start solving both issues from the inside out.
A career in the tech sector can be rewarding for anyone who is aware of the roles and the skills that are needed to be successful in them, but many women are unaware of what’s available. The pipeline of trained female technology professionals is looking extremely unhealthy for businesses looking to buck the trend of low gender diversity.
The tech sector will only continue to grow and advance with the introduction of new technology, and for both diversity and skills gaps to reduce, we need to convince the next generation of women that the tech sector also has a place for them.
Zoe Morris is the President of niche IT staffing firm Pearson Frank, overseeing the company’s ongoing business and sales operations, employee training, and hiring initiatives. Founded in 2016, Pearson Frank is a global leader in Java, web, mobile and PHP recruitment, working to find people jobs from offices across the EMEA and APAC.