8 March 2017
From hairdresser to technology apprentice, single mum to cyber security master, Queen of tech Dame Stephanie Shirley…
…Meet the women who are flying the flag for women in tech and want to encourage more women into tech careers.
- 50% women in tech were actively discouraged from entering into a technology career, by people close to them
- 76% did not view technology as an attractive career path at school but almost 100% of them have enjoyed an exciting career in tech
- 80% of women say that they think that there need to be more role models in tech
- Post Brexit faces a chronic digital skills shortage. Lack of gender diversity will contribute to this issue
QA, the UK’s leading technology training and apprenticeship organisation, which trains over 200K delegates each year, and placed over 10,000 young people into tech apprenticeships at top organisations, have created a film to inspire women into technology careers, for International Women’s Day.
Last week, QA uncovered, within a survey completed by over 80 women who currently work in technology jobs, within both public and private sector organisations - that nearly half of women were actively discouraged from starting a career in tech.
This worrying revelation is highly conceivable, shown by the fact that women represent just 17% of all technology roles, within the UK*. This figure has remained flat, during the past few years, and shows that there are not any significant improvements on the gender imbalance, within the fastest growing sector, technology. If the influencers are dissuading young women from a tech career, this gender disparity will only continue, without action being taken. QA’s research showed that in order to improve the ratio of women in tech, those surveyed recommended that the industry needs more role models (80%), more tech careers education in schools (79%), and more help from industry (65%), and government (36%), with others asking the TV and film industry to portray gender equality in technology.
Bill Walker, CTO at QA said “It is shocking that nearly 80%, a huge percentage of women, within the sample, were actively discouraged from starting a tech career, by people that they trust. Luckily, these ones made it through into the industry, but there will be many who haven’t and are missing out. It makes sense that over 40% of women in tech roles started a career in a different field, having been discouraged by those close to them. With the sector growing, and with women representing just 17% of all IT roles, unless action is taken to change the perceptions of technology, improvements in gender disparity won’t be made. Of the women in our sample 76% didn’t see technology as an attractive career path at school, but almost 100% of them have enjoyed an exciting career in tech with the best aspects being; always learning more, working on tech that helps people’s lives, it’s exciting, good salary and flexible. Girls and women and their influencers need to know this; in order to advise them appropriately.”
In QA’s subtle film, which features women from across the technology industry, it sets out to dispel the myth that technology jobs are just for men. QA hopes that it inspires women to come forward for the incredible technology career development programmes, and job opportunities that are available, to both men and women, across the UK, no matter what their level of technology experience is.
The short film captures the energy of a highly academic teenager who opted for a QA Software Development apprenticeship instead of university and works within a South London web design agency. Also, the dedication and passion, of a single mum of three children who is a cyber security expert and part-time cyber security Masters student. Relief is portrayed by the hairdresser and single mum turned technology apprentice, who is now doing what she loves. There is a tech consultant at TalkTalk, who returned to work after a career break. The iconic Dame Stephanie Shirley also provides her view on what women bring to technology roles, having set-up the world’s first all-female software company, in the 1960’s. All these women work in technology, with the conclusion of the piece, a montage featuring all the women saying “I am a woman. I work in technology”.
Dame Stephanie Shirley, ‘Steve’, says “It is so much easier for women now to get into technology careers given the opportunities available to them, such as apprenticeships, traineeships, intensive training programmes offered by the industry, and many other schemes and initiatives. Women need to know that they are just as suited to technology jobs as men. My ultimate wish for the industry is that it eventually becomes gender free and we hope QA’s video encourages women to see that technology is for anybody who is passionate about the potential of technology.”
Marta Mendonca, 19, who works at Socially Bright as a Software Developer, and is a QA technology apprentice, said “I really enjoyed making this film. It amazes me that so few women are in tech careers, it doesn’t make sense to me. I love my job. I love tech, and I am constantly learning new things and making websites work and function for people and businesses. It’s the coolest job. I really hope that other women reconsider a tech career after seeing this film.”
Last month, one of QA’s female apprentices, who works for AXA Insurance, stood up alongside Sir Vince Cable, to raise awareness of women in tech, and showcase her contribution to the tech industry:
Sir Vince Cable, said at the event “Great event on digital skills from the BCS, especially seeing how a young woman technology apprentice, QA’s Satveer Kaur-Singh, has added considerable value to her employer and is thriving in a technology position. I completely support those who are proactively promoting technology apprenticeships to diverse audiences. Post-Brexit Britain faces a chronic digital skill shortage. Gender diversity and inclusion should be high-priority to the ongoing strategy to recruit apprentices to enable the UK to bridge the skills gap effectively.”
*BCS/Tech Partnership Women in IT survey, 2016, available upon request.