Tech has become one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors, especially as demand for digital initiatives have heightened due to the pandemic. But it was always on the fast track towards growth as businesses began hunting for more cyber security experts to protect them from cyber attacks and more web developers to improve online presence.
In the past year, there has been a 61% increase in jobs in the IT sector alone, outlining the demand in the sector, as well as a need for candidates. However, the technology industry is notoriously known for being male-dominated. In fact, only 19% of the tech workforce are women, with 77% of tech director roles being filled by men. And this trend is across the board – even in big tech; only 25% of employees are female at FAAMG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google), with women making up fewer than one in four technical roles. Women also hold 26.5% of executive, senior-level and management positions in S&P 500 companies – a percentage many tech companies match or exceed, but one that is still far from parity.
Adapting hiring strategies to increase diversity in tech
It starts at school
Gender disparity is an issue that many industries are fighting against, but the technology sector certainly struggles a lot more. To learn why, we have to look to the root cause.
Statistics show that females tend to (on average) perform better than their male counterparts at school, yet are still outnumbered when going to study, with just 35% of higher education students in STEM subjects being women; computer science has one of the biggest imbalances between genders, 81% of students are men.
So, a huge issue is that traditional career routes into tech highlight the stereotypes within the industry whether that relates to gender, age, personality etc., where in truth, anyone can do any type of job if they have the relevant qualifications or skills.
Of course, there are good initiatives in place to help women venture into tech – some that take place at school, right through to workplaces – and many of which have seen the industry welcoming more women over the past decade. Take for example the Tech She Can — which Reed signed up to in its infancy — a collective of over 200 companies who inspire and encourage more girls and women to study tech courses and pursue careers in the sector.
Nominations are now open for the 2022 Women in IT Awards – one of the largest technology diversity awards programme in the world
Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen some incredible dedication, transformations, and innovation from professionals and organisations alike – especially in the tech sector. And our 2022 Awards, now in its eighth year, aims to highlight the growth, continuity and results of these incredible women, allies, and organisations.
Companies need to offer more
Without a doubt, a good way to inspire people to follow a career path is by making sure they can see themselves doing that role. For example, if women don’t see another woman leading in the technology space, they are less likely to go for that role and more likely to experience imposter syndrome.
Seems like it’s a never-ending dilemma of “what came first – the chicken or the egg?”. It’s hard to show that women have a place at your tech firm without women being there in the first place. A good way to do this is through a mentoring programme. Encouraging those women who you do have in your workplace and retaining them by allowing them to develop. A mentoring scheme allows women to network with other people in the industry they can relate to, in order to ask questions and learn from their experience. It is an effective way to not only guide aspiring women but also give them the confidence they might need to progress as far as their male counterparts, eradicating any feelings of being an “imposter”.
But there are many things companies can do to continue to make the industry more inviting for females – offering flexible and hybrid working, awarding equal pay, providing a good maternity package and, company benefits, and fostering a forward-thinking company culture that is passionate about inclusion and diversity.
The language you use in your job advertising is also crucial in making women want to apply for a role and is especially important in the candidate-driven jobs market we are seeing at present. You should avoid using any language that is gender-biased and includes details of family-friendly benefits. The majority of women I recruit into the tech sector look for benefits such as flexibility, working from home, opportunities to grow, training and competitive salary when they decide to apply for a job.
To encourage and support women in technology we, Reed, launched our own free ‘Women in Technology Mentoring Programme’ with over 1000 tech professionals engaged. The Reed scheme connects women at any stage of their career with an external mentor – male or female – who can offer them tailored guidance and support, to help them realise their potential and achieve their personal and professional goals.