How to Create Opportunities for Women in Tech

Technology remains a vibrant and attractive industry to work in, with opportunities aplenty for those with the right skills. Hayes’ recent Salary Guide found that salaries in technology roles rose by 2.3 percent last year, and professionals benefit from an abundance of new skills to learn, ever-evolving technologies to work with, and exciting projects to take part in.

As a result of increased opportunities, skills shortages are prevalent across the industry. Some 79 percent of employers we surveyed say their top challenge when recruiting is a lack of suitable applicants.

Despite the high demand for professionals once they begin a career in tech, there is often a lack of opportunities for young people to join the profession in the first place. This is especially common for women, and is contributing to the stark gender imbalance that remains across many tech teams.

What is Causing the Problem?

The root of this issue is twofold. First is the drop-off in the number of girls choosing to continue studying STEM subjects into higher education. The 2017 PwC “Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap” report shows a more pronounced drop in the number of girls who carry on studying STEM subjects from school through to university than boys. It also found that only 3 percent of females say a career in technology is their first choice, compared to 15 percent of males.

The second part of the issue is that some children simply do not have access to the teachers and infrastructure required to learn the skills needed for a career in tech.

Creating Interest from a Young Age is Key

Fundamentally, developing the interest and passion for a role in the technology industry needs to start from a young age. With this in mind, Hays is working with Teen-Turn to provide internship opportunities to teenage girls as a practical way to encourage them to consider a career in technology. The scheme provides school-age girls with the opportunity to see what a role in tech looks like, and help them to understand that it is not a career choice open to men only.

The special part of Teen-Turn is their focus on girls from areas where access to third-level education is low, therefore providing internship opportunities for even more girls who may not otherwise get the chance.

Focus on Female Role Models

You are more likely to do something if you see someone already doing it successfully. Providing girls with the opportunity to meet and work with women in tech is a key part of Teen-Turn, and we have found that doing so helps break stereotypes and enables girls to envisage themselves working in a similar role in the future.

Identifying female role models in your own organisation, and making the time for willing employees to volunteer and engage with schools in your own community, can help to inspire the next generation of women to pursue a tech career.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Improving gender diversity in tech is one way to overcome skills shortages in the industry, and can bring a number of benefits including improved innovation – a key differentiator for many tech organisations.

However, change is not brought about by words alone. By getting involved in schemes such as Teen-Turn, you can contribute to providing opportunities for all young people to discover their passion for tech, as well as enable them to pursue a career in the industry. This, in turn, will build a stronger pipeline of talent and help to alleviate future skills shortages, ensuring the tech industry can continue to thrive in the years to come.

If you are interested in becoming a Teen-Turn host in 2018, contact the team: contact@teen-turn.com.

Hays is pleased to have achieved the National Equality Standard (NES), one of the UK’s most rigorous and prestigious accreditations for equality, diversity and inclusion. Our reports are designed to help other organisations achieve their diversity goals.

 

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