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International Women’s Day: Why The Tech Industry Must Tackle STEM Skills & Perception Gap

The tech industry may be at the forefront of social innovation – but when it comes to gender balance, the tech sector still has a  way to go in closing the skills and perception gap surrounding women in technical roles.  For example, among software developers, only 11% are women.

This International Women’s day, Employer News spoke to six industry experts to get their thoughts and personal stories on gender in the tech industry.  Reproduced here with their permission we ask, what is needed to bring gender balance to the UK Tech Industry?

 

Anying Li, Senior Data Scientist at Exabeam:

“There are two sides to the coin. Technology companies need to have a sense of corporate responsibility about what we do with our resources and use them to encourage more women to enter STEM fields and empower the women that are already in our organisations. We need to actively recruit from colleges and organisations with women (and other underrepresented groups of course!) versus shifting the blame onto technology as a ‘pipeline’ problem. On the other side of the token, women need to advocate for themselves.

“A lot of moving parts need to change for tech culture to change, but nothing can happen in a vacuum. It’s not just women being better, it’s everyone being better.”

 

Jacquelyn Ferrari, Senior Software Engineer at ConnectWise:

“The key to women flourishing in STEM is positive support from others in the industry. My advice to women is to not be discouraged. If you truly have a passion for addressing the issues around the lack of women in STEM, go for it. I think it’s crucial to encourage younger generations, especially women, to pursue their interest in the tech field. I have noticed an increasing trend of women involved as keynote speakers and leaders in our industry, but there’s still a disparity in the field as a whole. I hope to see this change in the new decade.”

 

Imogen Smith, Applications Engineer at Content Guru:

“At school, I was encouraged to do History or Law over Maths by our Pastoral Care Department and Head of Sixth Form. In fact, the school wasn’t planning on running the Further Maths A level at all, as it ‘wasn’t a real A level’. But I liked how Maths is so logical, which is probably what drew me to it initially. I think I was always going to end up doing a STEM subject because both my parents have PhDs in Sciences, so I learned to love it from a young age. I consider myself very lucky in that respect.”

 

Simon Powell, Director Customer Support EMEA at Commvault:

“Too often there is a stigma that working in Technology is dull or for geeks only, but today technology is at the forefront of everything we do in daily and working life. It’s no longer about sitting in a darkened room in the basement of companies – it’s the industry that is changing every aspect of the world. If we don’t get females to see this and buy into these subjects at school and later in life then we end up having the technology that is changing our lives designed from a male perspective that is not going to best represent and support the world it is impacting. Technology needs to build on globally representative perspectives.”

 

Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto:

“As a tech industry veteran, I know first-hand that this industry has endless opportunities for women, but there is much more that needs to be done to enable women tech leaders and to correct for culture mistakes and injustices. Bringing more girls and women into STEM degree programs and careers is a foundational solution to the problem. I’m encouraged by numbers like those we’re seeing out of Europe, where, in 2017, women made up more than a third of scientists and engineers, an increase of more than 28 percent since 2007.”

 

Leane Parsons, Network Projects Team Leader at Node4:

“As more and more women become empowered in technical roles any feelings of inadequacy or imposter-syndrome are pushed further into the history books. Emerging from gaming, developer, and DevOps foundations are a new class of women in tech.

“I believe that this balance of skill-sets between male and female perceptions can only enrich the industry, and with the rise of Public Cloud offerings such as Azure and AWS and the arrival of DevOps, I can see a new wave of female gurus taking more of a frontline position.”