According to the latest statistics just 26% of tech jobs were held by women.
There are multiple theories circling about why this might be. From gender stereotyping at school discouraging entry in the first place, to a hostile working environment once they’re in, such as a big gender pay gap and a ‘bro culture’.
With a big IT skills shortage this problem needs to be addressed quickly, so where can we start?
In our pool of potential apprentices around 23% of those on the IT and software development pathways were women. As we pride ourselves on diversity, we decided to take some steps ourselves and break down the barriers, revealing what an exciting place tech can be.
On Thursday 29th July, Step Forward held a Women in Tech event at MOO in Farringdon. We invited all young women already interested in a tech career and opened it up to all those on other pathways that might want to consider their options.
We need to find an appealing way to tell young women about IT and its benefits, such as informing them on the wide variety of careers and high salaries to get them in and then services such as mentoring and networking groups to keep them there.
We hosted a speaker panel, mythbusting quiz and a problem-solving game, which was there to simulate the life of a developer and tech support operative. At the beginning of the event, we introduced everyone and gave them an overview of the event and what would be included. Some of the guests were nervous to begin with and didn’t know if it was for them, but after some advice and activities, they really enjoyed themselves. The whole evening had an enthusiastic vibe, which participants used within teamwork activities and questions.
Our all-female speakers were a massive asset to the event, they helped to encourage and inspire the young women of today. This included staff from Bloomberg, Salesforce and the Government, plus our own apprentices Aryana, Simone and Divya. Divya graduated from Step Forward last year and now works at CSL Dual in a more senior role.
The evening overall was a huge success. Even those who were reluctant at first became more engaged as the evening went on. Others who may have already been interested came out more inspired, motivated and reassured than before. 15% of the attendees, who had previously expressed interest in other pathways, came out of it wanting to go into tech and asked us to move them onto the IT course!
Encouraging young women to begin their IT interests earlier on could inspire them to carry it on as a career. Studying science, IT, engineering and maths at school or further education can largely broaden and increase their interests and ideas for the future.
We need to find an appealing way to tell young women about IT and its benefits, such as informing them on the wide variety of careers and high salaries to get them in and then services such as mentoring and networking groups to keep them there. We found that simply communicating the positives and benefits of careers in IT using first hand accounts was persuasive enough. Digital tech employees are offered around 36% higher wage than UK average and with a skills shortage there is a huge opportunity for anyone willing and interested.
The event was a huge success thanks to everyone who took part. Thank you again to the speakers who helped us to inspire the new generation.