One of the North West’s top software developers is warning that there is a still huge gender in-balance in the tech industry, which has the potential to become greater in the future.
Currently females make up less than 23%* of the skilled workforce in STEM careers and only 5% are in leadership positions in the sector.
Jeremy Coates, co-owner and CEO of Magma Digital and also director at Digital Lancashire, an organisation dedicated to accelerating the digital economy, has been touring the country, speaking on the issue and working with education providers on the new T Levels, which he hopes will help address the issue.
Jeremy said: “Gender in-balance in our sector is a huge issue. To give you a personal example, only recently we appointed Molly in a year long placement at Magma Digital. She’s studying computer science at university and out of the entire year she is just one of three female students. To me that says it all, the stats already show how few women are in tech, and in the short term, with individuals like Molly just one of a few females studying tech courses, this doesn’t look like it’s going to improve. In fact, the gender in-balance in the industry could potentially get worse.”
According to a study carried about by PWC UK, only 3% of women would actually make a career in tech their first choice.
Carrie Nestor, operations director said: “The tech sector is one of the key planks of our economy, and vital to future growth of both the UK and the regions. One way to really drive growth in the sector is to develop more talent, and encouraging more females into the profession would help achieve this. The problem we have at the moment is, despite the industry being in upward growth with skills shortages, and roles which command higher than average salaries, it is not seen as a desirable profession for women, largely because it is male dominated, and perceived as a ‘techy’ job. This is a challenge and something we really need to address.”
Priscilla Coates, co-owner and managing director, sees the new T Levels, a skill-based alternative to traditional A Levels as part of the solution.
She comments: “Our county, Lancashire is at the forefront of implementing T Level qualifications, and digital skills will be a focus of the new qualifications. This means we do have the opportunity to inspire young talent both male and female to follow a digital skills route, and this could help encourage higher levels of female techies pursuing degrees and a careers in the industry. This needs to be combined with a more concerted effort from both industry and education to change perceptions of the sector and provide inspiration and opportunities for females to go into tech.”