As a female in the technology industry, you’ll notice there’s something you won’t come across too often; other women. With so many current initiatives to try and encourage more women to study the core STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), is it really a problem that only 23% of people in core STEM occupations in the UK are women?
Growth of the Digital Technology Sector
The digital technology sector is growing faster than the rest of the UK economy. 2.6 times faster, in fact. That’s pretty significant; there’s an ever-increasing demand for skilled tech employees (employment in the sector rose by 13.2% from 2014 to 2017) that can command higher salaries. According to a report from the O2 Digital Hub, we’re going to need 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 if our digital economy is going to meet its potential. With an astoundingly low 19% of the digital workforce being female, can we really afford to not encourage more women into the sector and still expect to meet this demand and work towards closing the gender pay gap?
Growth of digital technology in all sectors
It’s not just digital technology companies that are growing their skilled tech workforce; all industries are increasingly embracing technology and its ability to support and accelerate growth, so they’re looking for the right people with the right skills to help them do this. For many organisations, it’s near impossible to even remain competitive without integrating technology into their strategy. Take the telecommunications industry; research by McKinsey revealed a strong correlation between profit margin and five specific areas of IT. Without enough women in tech roles to support the ongoing digital transformation that so many organisations are undergoing across all sectors, we’ll experience a shortage of skilled people that can drive and implement these strategies. Industries that already struggle to attract both skilled tech workers and female employees, such as manufacturing, will find themselves with an even smaller talent pool.
Diversity is good for business
Businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity 15% more likely to outperform their competitors. In fact, if you add race and age diversity into the mix, this shoots up to 35%. That’s a pretty strong business case to encourage organisations to further embrace diversity and inclusion. It’s the basis for attracting and keeping talent, raising productivity, responding effectively to customers and driving innovation based on a wider range of views and ideas. It’s really no surprise that businesses who actively promote diversity are strong performers in their industry.
Why don’t more women work in the IT sector?
While it’s true that men and women are physically different, there’s no evidence to suggest that there’s any significant difference in cognitive abilities between genders. Differences that do exist between genders actually differ between countries and can disappear with training anyway, so there’s no indication that gender differences should account for the disparity between the numbers of men and women in and wanting to enter the industry. There are lots of theories as to why so few women in the UK work in technology, like the perpetuation of stereotypes, for one. But with 69% of girls saying they haven’t considered an IT career because they aren’t aware of the opportunities that are available to them, maybe we should simply start with this: let’s make sure we tell EVERYONE what amazing opportunities are waiting in a career in digital technology.
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