Women in Tech: First choice? Or no choice at all?
Updated: Jul 4
Would it surprise you to know that women make up only 26% of the workforce within the UK tech industry? It surprised me! After all, we are in 2023 and if ever we were at a stage where women can do and be anything they want – surely now is the time. So why are women so underrepresented within this sector and what are the benefits for companies to close this gender gap?
My career in tech started 13 years ago in a very unrelated role within the NHS; I was patient facing and working as a HCA and Ward Clerk. My experience creating rosters landed me the opportunity to apply for a role implementing rostering software throughout the trust I was working in. This set me on a progressive career path where eventually I was the project lead implementing software to the medical workforce. This experience then gave me the necessary skills to apply for my current role, e-Rostering Project Manager for Premier IT, one of the leading software providers to the NHS.
My role encompasses all that a Project Manager usually does, planning and monitoring the implementation project from start to finish whilst ensuring the primary constraints are upheld, including scope, timeframes and budget. I also work directly with the software, configuring it to client requirements alongside other colleagues that may be involved with the project and deliver training to all stakeholders both internally and externally. It is a hugely varied role which is challenging but suits my nature of enjoying a fast paced work environment and the continuous need to re-evaluate pace and progress in order to improve efficiency.
My role is one of thousands within the industry and studies have shown that lack of knowledge and understanding around the roles and career paths available contributes to the low number of women within the workforce. It has been suggested that education around this topic at secondary school level would encourage more women to seek further education or jobs within technology but why should local authorities invest in this way? What benefits would this bring to businesses and ultimately our economy?
Studies have shown that companies that encourage gender diversity see the following positive outcomes:
Increased staff retention
A more reliable workforce
And these are just a few.
A recent study also showed that increasing the number of women working in tech could bring an added £2.6bn for the UK economy. Surely that is incentive enough on its own!
Ultimately it is really important that this sector is seen as a career path for ALL. Further education at secondary school around roles and opportunities would be a good starting point; investment in this is key to the future of the sector.
Investment in mentoring programmes have also shown to be an effective tool in attracting and retaining women to the tech workforce. Not only does it give currently employed women a chance to reflect on, and ultimately improve their own careers but these women are also guiding the future generation that may be new to the sector. Studies have shown that mentoring programmes can lead to a 15% to 38% increase in promotion for underrepresented groups.
As a woman in tech I can safely say that I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else and I look forward to a day, maybe when my own daughter is exploring career paths, where a greater percentage of women are making it their first choice rather than – as I did –happening upon it but ultimately realising what a fantastic place it is to be!