Changing the face of the tech industry, one person at at time


by Hattie Carne, Consultant, Missive

When someone uses the phrase ‘women in technology’, what does the phrase mean to you?

Perhaps you picture the likes of Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) or Susan Wojcicki (YouTube CEO). Despite countless campaigns aiming to increase diversity in the sector, our view of what being a woman in technology means, and our knowledge of who is transforming the face of the industry, remain surprisingly low.

PwC’s recent research, Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap, revealed that only a quarter (27%) of females say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. And only 3% of females say it is their first choice of career. The reasons why female students aren’t considering technology roles? The overarching consensus is that no one is putting technology forward as an option to them, they aren’t given enough information at school, and there is a lack of female role models.

Now, there are of course a number of active initiatives and networks, as well as some impressive female role models who embody not only a successful career, but the vitality and progressive nature that should define the sector. Even with this in mind, the numbers uncovered in the PwC report are worrying. Not least because they earmark the sentiment of a generation that has the characteristics needed to move the sector on in leaps and bounds.

The PwC survey shows that young women, for the most part, wouldn’t consider a career in technology as their first choice, due primarily to a lack of information. I can’t help but feel the education piece is the missing part of the puzzle.

Solving this issue could largely be about debunking myths. For example: think technology and creativity can’t go hand-in-hand? A huge number of business owners and entrepreneurs are using their expertise to build the backbone of their business and save costly outsourcing. Think a successful career in technology is about working for a tech giant? Think again. Everyone and every company starts from the beginning.

It seems, then, that it’s a lack of clear communication, both positive reinforcement and simply presenting the facts, that has led to these disappointing figures.

Communication should be at the forefront of any company’s business and strategic agenda. If we could only ensure that presenting a positive image of women in technology was at the heart of some of those communications, one can’t help but think the gender balance might be much more level than it is today.

Off the back of this research, the PwC team has created a game-changing initiative, putting the responsibility on the industry to help rectify this challenge.

The launch of PwC’s ‘Tech She Can Charter’ encourages the businesses to commit to working together to reach more young females across the UK to inspire them to pursue technology careers. The Charter is being taken extremely seriously, with support from the UK Government.

At Missive, we are delighted to announce that we have pledged to the Charter, attending our first meeting in March. The people in the room had a genuine passion for both gender diversity and the careers they’re in. This has reminded us that role models come in all forms; from exec level to those who are fresh into their first job post university.

In an industry where innovation and forward thinking is key, tech has a natural advantage: anything is possible and every idea is worthwhile.

The ‘Tech She Can Charter’ therefore isn’t just about encouraging careers for women in technology. Instead, it’s about promoting and creating an industry that is truly gender diverse. It’s also about celebrating and recognising the individuals and organisations that are stepping up to achieve gender balance to help speed up cultural change.

If we are to truly close the gender gap, and to have the tech industry lead the way, we need to show the next generation just how incredibly exciting and creative this sector can be. We know and we hope you do. But let’s not underestimate that these messages need to get into the hands of the right people. We will keep you updated on our journey…

For more information on the Charter and PwC’s research: https://www.pwc.co.uk/who-we-are/women-in-technology/tech-she-can-charter.html