The apparent gender imbalance in tech is a widely recognised issue.
Just recently, a Deloitte Global study predicted that less than 25% of IT jobs in the developed world will be held by women by the end of this year.
With this in mind, and in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day – which recognises women’s achievements in STEM careers – Tech City News reached out to members of the UK tech community to find out their thoughts on how technology (and other STEM subjects) can be made more accessible to women.
‘A long way away’
Kim Nilsson, the CEO of data science hub Pivigo and a former Astronomer, said:
“On a day like today that pays tribute to inspirational women in tech, businesses should realise that diverse teams bring better solutions and start to make changes that encourage women to progress in STEM careers.
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“Though women are increasingly studying STEM subjects, we’re still a long way from gender equality. The answer lies in expanding STEM education. Beyond an emphasis on Ada’s own background in programming, for example, women make up just 12% of data scientists. This high-paying discipline is solving many of the real-world challenges affecting companies.
“Some STEM subjects are already popular with women, such as life sciences and astronomy. These backgrounds are great for data science, more needs to be done to encourage our belief that data science is for everyone so we can get more women on board,” she concluded.
Creating the right environment
Alex Ford, VP of marketing and operations at Encompass Corporation, commented on what she believed was necessary to boost female participation in technology.
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“I think having programmes, competitions that actively seek out and target female participation and celebrate success can encourage girls and women to take a second look at STEM programme and get involved via a hands on experience which may give them a positive introduction.
e”But really once you start talking about the workplace there are a range of things that need to happen at a system level to create an environment which is going to not only accommodate, but promote female participation,” she added.
Plugging the skills shortage
Yariella Coello, head of consultancy at marketing intelligence company Profusion, told Tech City News:
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“I find it encouraging that the calls for more women in STEM have been getting louder in recent years. However, much more has to be done by the tech industry to inspire women into STEM to prevent these calls from ringing hollow.
“That said, the tech industry of today is facing a dire skills gap, and encouraging more women into STEM will significantly plug our skills shortage,” she concluded.
No room for complacency
Elizabeth Vega, CEO at Informed Solutions and a judge for the Women in IT Awards, spoke about the need to protect the UK’s future following the nation’s decision to Brexit.
“This means that the UK tech industry needs to continue innovating, evolving and become even more competitive within an open global marketplace and without the advantages of membership of the European Economic Community. To do so, we must ensure that we have a strong and highly capable workforce with modern skills.
“The fact that the more girls than ever are taking Computing GCSES and that they are now performing exceptionally well in STEM subjects is testament of the positive impact that education, media and industry thought leaders, government and employers are finally making. But we need to persist. We need to collaborate more and join up our efforts. We need to amplify the positive messages, recognise success and increase the profile of our role models. What we cannot do is become complacent,” noted the CEO.