Women occupy just 17% of tech jobs. Fewer than one in ten of these women are in leadership positions in the sector. Women make up only 20% of tech founders, and only 4% of software engineers.
These statistics are shocking - not only because of the clear issues of diversity but they also show an opportunity missed as tech companies grapple to deal with rising vacancies as skills gaps widen.
Digital businesses are drivers of productivity and will underpin the future success of the UK economy. However, it is not news to you or me that the UK faces a significant digital skills gap, and to meet this incredible digital potential, we need a robust and diverse talent pipeline. There is a massive opportunity to grow and continue to innovate in the tech sector, and if we don’t cast the net far and wide for the best talent, we will not become the engine room for the nation’s growth.
Diversity is good for business. Products, services and ideas that originate from non-diverse teams do not reflect the global markets that the tech sector serves. Gender diverse companies are 45% more likely to improve market share, achieve 53% higher returns on equity, and are 70% more likely to report successfully capturing new markets.
So if there is a skills gap, a lack of gender parity in tech, and evidence that diversity is beneficial to business, how can we attract, retain, and progress top female tech talent?
This is all about pipeline. There is already a focus on getting more girls to study STEM subjects and explore opportunities in careers in tech, however, this year for International Women’s Day, I’d like to shine a light on returners and the importance of women embracing technology in the new world of work for advancement after a career break.
Estimates suggest that almost 2 million women in the UK are currently economically inactive due to caring commitments, and 76% of professional women on career breaks want to return to work. We know the tech sector has some way to go with women returners – the average tenure of a woman in the industry is seven years. We see that the lack of proper structures in place for women who have taken leave for caring responsibilities means there is a widening gap in senior female tech leaders, as evidenced by the statistic that fewer than one in ten of the 17% of women in tech are in leadership positions.
That’s why this year I am proud to support the launch of techUK’s Returner’s Hub on International Women’s Day. This hub will serve those who are looking to re-enter or re-skill into the tech sector as well as tech companies looking to explore options for their own returner programmes. Re-entering the workplace after a break is no easy feat, but with the support of networks, tools and business interest, it is also entirely achievable.
By continuing to grow, support and develop initiatives already in place within the tech sector, I believe we can continue to move the dial and start seeing a change in the shocking statistics for gender parity. Continued collaboration and transparency are critical, so I would encourage you to reach out to techUK and find out how you can support returners back into your business. Given the skills gap, we all have a duty to support women returners.
Next year, my goal is to open International Women’s Day with a blog that comments on all the achievements made in 2017 for women in tech, and hopefully, some more positive statistics. So come and find out how you can make the difference #WomenReturners #IWD2017.
To find out more about techUK's Women in Tech Programme, get in touch with: