An increase of women in IT could see an extra £2.6 billion a year generated for the UK economy, according to a survey by Nominet.
The internet infrastructure company released its report today to mark International Girls in ICT Day. The research found the net benefit for the UK economy is estimated at £2.6 billion if the gender gap was reduced.
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The report also found that women currently make up one-fifth of the IT workforce, with this figure predicted to increase in coming years.
According to the research, low participation in IT education is a key factor for females not joining the IT workforce. Figures from the report revealed only a third of ICT A-level students and less than a tenth of computer studies A-level students are female.
At university, just 19% of students were found to be taking computer science degrees. Out of these only 9% go on to a career in IT, compared to 26% of men.
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The report estimated that if the same number of women studied computer science degrees as men and the same number went on to work in the IT sector, the UK economy would see a net benefit of £103 million per year.
The report also found that more than half (53%) agreed that females find working in the technology sector less attractive than men do. Of these, 60% said the IT profession is still viewed as male dominated. A total of 33% believe the sector is not promoted enough as a career option to girls during education.
Despite these findings almost a quarter said their company is promoting IT roles to women and one fifth are actively visiting schools and universities to speak with female students.
Nominet’s director of HR Gill Crowther said: “The digital economy is driving economic growth in the UK. Given the extent of the IT skills shortage, we can’t afford to only recruit from half the talent pool. It’s alarming to think that, if current trends continue, the IT gender gap will get bigger rather than smaller.
“We need to attract more women into the technology industry at every level and this starts with encouraging girls at school and university to study IT subjects. The new curriculum coming into force in September offers a fantastic opportunity for girls to become engaged with more technical subjects as the study of computing – and coding – becomes compulsory for all schoolchildren.”