New research commissioned by computer firm HP shows that nearly 70% of the women across the UK are interested in jobs in the tech sector. Specialised technical roles could also see a significant increase in female recruits, with one third of the women willing to consider that kind of work.
The new poll suggests that an untapped pool of young women keen to explore possible tech careers have misconceptions around the opportunities and a perceived lack of access to them. Some 45% of women expressed a willingness to retrain in a technical job, suggesting a huge opportunity to increase female representation through retraining and up-skilling for those already starting careers. Currently women comprise only 17% of the UK’s tech workforce.
At a roundtable discussion looking at the barriers to women entering tech, held by HP UK in partnership with the Fawcett Society and The Tech Talent Charter, young women from across the country and experts in the field came together to discuss what the industry, government and education can do to address this.
- An independent survey commissioned by HP polled 1,000 women aged 20 to 32 across the UK on the barriers to a career in tech
- Nearly half say they would be willing to retrain, addressing the 1 in 3 who express concern about lacking qualifications
- The study also shows a clear desire among young women to learn more about tech careers
- Tech careers offer a solution to one of women’s top priorities when choosing a career: work-life balance
Vicky Ford MP, who sits on the House of Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology, said: “We are living in a digital revolution, technology is key to our future. Female employment is at a record high, but the percentage of women working in the tech sector remains low. There are many examples of great achievements by women in this sector. It is important to enable more young women to access these opportunities.”
While 97% of women consider technology to be key to the future success of the UK economy, one in five women who didn’t choose to study STEM said it was because they ‘didn’t know anything about it’, suggesting that negative associations or an initial lack of interest to the field starts early and persists into adulthood.
Minister for Digital, Margot James, said: “Diversity makes good business sense and we risk losing a huge amount of potential talent if women are not applying for the fantastic opportunities in the tech industry.”
“We recently announced a £1.2 million fund for people from underrepresented groups, including women, to get digital skills, and our funding for the Tech Talent Charter initiative has led more than 300 firms to commit to getting more women into tech jobs,” she added.
Results also highlight a lack of confidence and of being under-qualified as a key driver behind the shortfall of women in the sector. One in four women who didn’t study STEM said it was because they didn’t believe they could do it while just under one in three (32%) of women not in a specialist technical role believe they don’t have the right qualifications – leading them to disregard a career in tech.
Many roles in tech can offer an answer to one of the top three priorities when choosing their career – work-life balance. However greater awareness is needed as only 25% of women surveyed associate this with the tech sector. Demonstrating flexibility and balance when advertising jobs can therefore help firms attract more women. In terms of other priorities, unsurprisingly, salary and job location are also listed in the top three.