At the time of writing, in the UK only one-in-six tech specialists are women and only one-in-ten are classified as IT leaders. While there has been a significant rise in the number of women working in IT jobs over the past ten years, females are still very under-represented in the technology sector.
In fact in the UK, women account for only 17% of tech and IT workers. With women making up 47% of the overall workforce, you can see that there is work to be done to boost the number of women working in technology moving forward.
However, since the end of 2017, there has been a big push from Tech giants to recruit more women and encourage more women to make in-roads into what has long been considered a male-dominated business sector that has been blighted by claims of sexism.
The positive gains of hiring women in IT
Economists claim that the UK economy would see a positive boost of around £2.6 billion each year by increasing the number of women working in the tech industry. This is especially true when addressing the current IT skills shortages.
Women can bring a lot to IT roles, including improved communication skills, more cooperation and boosted morale levels with teammates and co-workers. As a result, many big tech companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Intel, have pledged to improve the recruitment, training and retention of women in IT roles.
Improved pay rates to close the gender gap
The tech industry is far more progressive than other business sectors simply because it is a relatively new industry. The gender pay gap within the tech industry is much smaller than within other, more traditional old-school business sectors.
On a positive note, most big tech companies are very eager to close the gender pay gap and now openly pay the same wage for roles, regardless of whether they are filled by men or women.
More opportunity for progression
As tech businesses are now waking up and recognising the advantages that women offer the IT industry, there are more opportunities available for women to explore.
Whether that is for long-term career progression while already employed in IT, or to study other aspects of computing and technology during their school careers with a mind to take up available apprenticeships, and studying for degrees in these subjects.
Funding for education
In recognition of the growing need for tech specialists, the Government has been giving extra funding in their annual budget to go towards boosting the development of artificial intelligence, IT skills and technology.
This extra funding is expected to help boost the UK’s economic growth and will cover money needed for maths education, computer sciences and to partner up with industry and trade unions to develop and roll out a national retraining scheme offering more learning opportunities in science, technology and maths skills.
Parents, school teachers, university lecturers and employers are being encouraged to make sure that more girls take up education and training to encourage them to enter computer science careers. It is hoped that given time there will be many more female role models that can inspire and encourage more women to enter the tech industry and pursue careers in IT.
Women in health technology
With 77% of NHS staff being female, and with the NHS being the 5th largest employer globally, it makes sense to develop more opportunities for women working in health technology.
However, there is currently a huge divide between health care and health tech, and the NHS needs to realise how integrating more health tech can help to build its capacity.
It is not uncommon for mothers to use mobile phone technology to help manage the health care of their ageing parents as well as the ongoing health of their children. More mobile app designers and builders are creating services that recognise the obvious needs of women here.
The arrival of this type of technology has been tagged as ‘fem tech’ and is attracting many more women to the industry as men don’t seem to fully grasp women’s health issues and concerns, such as managing menopause or fertility tracking.
Targeting investment in developing female technology
As with any new tech innovation that needs investment for its research and development, investment in female-related technology is still facing an ongoing struggle. Unfortunately, there can still be cultural issues to overcome when it comes to applying for investment funding.
Many women tech entrepreneurs are still being asked by investors why they are targeting such a small nice market. But what the investors fail to see is that women make up 50% of the population, so how is developing female-related tech in any way considered to be a small niche?
Attitudes are changing though and hopefully progress will be made in cracking the NHS health tech market in future where it is expected women will lead the growth and progress in health tech development solutions.