Getting women into tech careers has never been more important. However, it has been shown that even at a young age, girls are steered away from it. The Guardian says that apparently, teachers believe old-fashioned stereotypes about subjects such as design and technology and computer science put girls off choosing them at school. We believe that it is also a wider issue of outdated social norms at work.
In 2020, the number of girls in the UK choosing to study computer science GCSE (UK) was 16,919, just over 21.4% of total entrants, compared to 61,540 boys.
Girls studying design and technology for GCSE decreased drastically from 29,741 in 2019 to 28,763 last year and unfortunately, the low numbers are also reflected in job roles. The percentage of women employed in tech has hardly moved from 15.7% in 2009 to approximately 17% today. That’s 13 years!
Sarah Walsh, a technology teacher at the Hathershaw college, Oldham, says getting girls into Stem classrooms is crucial for the future of UK industry:
“We no longer use the terms ‘woodwork, sewing and cooking’ in schools. But we know students still pick up those terms, perhaps from parents and grandparents who recall doing ‘woodwork’ at school. It’s a very old-fashioned idea and it can put girls off. It’s not just boys sitting in a workshop with tools. Technology is so much more than that now and although work has been done in education, we need to challenge the stereotypes and the image of these subjects if we are to draw females in.”
We need to increase the visibility of women in tech to young girls.
Elizabeth English teaches computer science at the Harris Academy St John’s Wood, in Westminster, north-west London. She says:
“Having female computer science teachers is a massive bonus,” Elizabeth explains. “There is that old adage – you can’t be what you can’t see. We are lucky at my school to have a lot of female teachers in all Stem subjects but that is probably unusual.” “Once girls are studying computer science they often love it and perform well.”
Celebrating female tech leaders, it will hopefully encourage more girls to pursue their interests and careers in tech, thus increasing the hiring pool diversity. We need to ensure young girls have strong role models of other successful women in STEM and that women have a seat at the table so they can engage men on the topic of gender equality.
More Tech companies need to visit schools with the goal of peaking girls’ interests. Elizabeth says that “Google came into school and spent a day working with students. They got very excited about the subject and could see how what they are learning translates to real life.”
Being a woman in tech is not always easy, and being the only woman in the boardroom at times can put unseen pressure on you. Accountability also inspires action. We need public policies to legally ensure companies are doing the right thing. Role models make a huge difference because until we see people who look and sound like us in leadership positions, it is difficult to see ourselves in that position. When you bring women into senior roles, you demonstrate that others have an opportunity to succeed, too. Netwomen is a global community filled with role models, a lot of which are in tech. We can connect you with these inspiring women.
Why is now the best time for women of all ages to get involved in tech?
Information technology is one of the fastest-growing industries globally, and technical innovation will play a crucial role in almost every sector of the economy. Based on data from Accenture, there are more jobs in computer science than graduates available to fill those positions, and the number of women in the computing workforce will shrink in the next 10 years unless we take action right now. The underrepresentation of women in tech will become a fundamental economic challenge if left unaddressed.
Diversity Generates More Revenue
Compared to others, high-gender-diversity companies deliver slightly better returns, and they have outperformed, on average, less diverse companies over the past five years. Companies that not only hire but also manage to retain more women put themselves in a position to automatically gain a competitive advantage, a benefit that extends to all stakeholders- everyone!
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Technical University of Munich conducted a study to understand the relationship between diversity in management. The results showed that increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more efficient innovation and improved financial performance in both developing and developed economies. The study also showed that companies with the greatest gender diversity, those in which 8 out of every 20 managers were female, generated about 34% of their revenues from innovative products and services in the last 3 years.
Join Netwomen today! We help individuals and companies in order to reach the goal of a 50/50 gender split at the top. No matter what level you are at, there is always another challenge to conquer or a goal to reach. To raise the bar, you need to stay laser-focused on your objectives. Netwomen events offer a space to share these goals. It doesn’t matter if they are career, business or personal, there is always something more to learn.