These both reinforce what many of us have known for years there is clearly a need for more women at all levels within the technology sector and more education is needed regarding the benefits of working within the industry.
The gender divide: does it begin in the classroom
In order to find a solution to the issue, one first needs to consider the potential barriers to entry. In my opinion, a strong argument can be made that the gender divide begins early in life. It may be a sweeping statement, but traditionally children show leanings towards particular career paths from young ages, with research showing that there is still a gender bias in the subjects chosen by boys and girls at school.
As technologys adoption has become increasingly widespread amongst young people, educational institutions are changing their approach, but this early gender divide is certainly evident in the leadership teams of many technology firms in the UK currently. Industry perceptions are changing and we are all now reliant on technology to navigate our daily lives; as such, the skills needed to allow technology to function effectively are more sought after than ever before.
Is there a need to reset the balance
Arguments have been made that technology is still a male dominated field, but this depends in large part on the roles being discussed in our experience, programming and software development roles tend to attract more male candidates than females. However, our recruitment process focuses on ensuring that positions are equally desirable to all.
Men and women both bring complementary skills to the workplace and for each position that we recruit for, we simply look to find the best candidate to fill the role based on individual ability.
Barriers to progression
To attract more women to the industry, it’s important to demonstrate the bigger picture and the wide range of career opportunities that are available as todays jobseekers tend to be reluctant to pigeon-hole themselves into specific roles. The technology sector needs to improve education around transferrable skills by raising awareness of the variety of opportunities that exist within solution architecture and project management, for example. This education needs to begin from a young age, with technology weaved into school curriculums in order for the industry to be perceived as a viable and rewarding career path for all.
Of course, a key issue for many women is the struggle to balance family life and career. Taking time out to have a family can be an obstacle to moving up the career ladder in any sector, but this is heightened within the technology sector because of the pace of change within the industry. IT moves so fast and as such there needs to be consistent training and re-entry programmes in place within firms to encourage women to see technology as a long-term career choice.
Tech companies can benefit significantly from the corresponding skill sets that female staff and board members bring, but all firms should look to hire and support the careers of both female and male staff that are committed to achieving organisational goals. After all, ambition is the key ingredient needed to make a successful career in technology, regardless of gender.
Julie Windsor is managing director of Talentia Software UK.
Recommended reading: Women in technology: Progression on inequality