Opinion: Women need to be better represented in tech
Adele Breen, director of corporate strategy services at Hotwire, argues that communicators must assist the tech sector in addressing its gender imbalance.
It’s surprising we’re still having this conversation in 2019, post #MeToo. And it’s a shame we have to given that we’ve seen worldwide campaigns to address gender imbalance across many industries. Yet here we are. There is still a disparity in gender equality and representation of women across many of the sectors we represent.
The technology space, within which many of our clients operate, often at the cutting edge and competing ruthlessly to attract the best of the industry’s talent, still notoriously lacks diversity. The gender imbalance in this sector is remarkable. There’s an estimated 2.1 million tech workers in the UK, but only 14% are female.
Furthermore, research from PwC has shown that only 3% of girls who study a STEM subject at school go onto consider a career in tech.
The causes of gender imbalance in tech
Why is the tech sector so off-putting to talented girls and women when considering their future career path?
We think we know why – there is a distinct lack of female role models out there on the tech scene. Only 22% of students surveyed by PwC could name a ‘famous female’ working in technology. Two thirds could name a man.
Moreover, there is the notorious ‘skills gap’ – we hear this term banded around a lot, but really there isn’t enough supply of talent to fulfil the demand for technical expertise.
Businesses we work with, and their own customers, regularly cite this as a major issue in creating a more representative workforce. The shortage of STEM skills in company personnel is also one of our key economic problems according to groups like the public accounts committee.
Resolving the skills gap issue is far from straightforward, however making your roles and brand more appealing to a broader spectrum of society is one obvious way forward.
How comms professionals can help
As communications experts, we’re in a position to be able to effect change. Every day we’re putting spokespeople forward to speak to media, contribute to published articles, present keynotes and participate in panels at some of the UK’s biggest technology events.
More of those people need to be women. Therefore, we need to commit to driving a better representation of women talking on technical topics by working with our clients to pitch women for more opportunities, giving more women in technology a public voice.
So we’re taking action. We need a bigger pool of available spokespeople. Now, and throughout 2019, we’ll be offering our clients in the UK free media training for women. The trajectory to becoming an industry role model often starts with media training, after which spokespeople are provided an increased volume of opportunities to have their voices heard.
We will be encouraging our clients to take up this offer, so that this time next year we are in a position to revaluate the landscape and feel confident we’re seeing more women represented in technology. We want to have played a part in initiating real change.
Find out more about our commitment to diversity here.
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