Last week, the GSMA held an interactive app building workshop on ITU’s Girls in ICT Day to encourage school girls to take science, technology, engineering and math’s (STEM) subjects at GCSE in the hope it will encourage them into a career in the technology industry.
The event, which took place in hub BL-NK in London’s Tech City, focused on the mobile market, with around thirty 13-year-old girls from East London attending to learn how to build various mobile applications.
“If you look at the number of women in ICT in the industry itself, it has declined and we’re about 30% of the workforce in Europe in the ICT sector. We need to be able to increase that, especially when you consider that we’re at the center of the digital revolution at the moment.” Vicky Sleight, Senior Director, Membership and Head of GSMA Connected Women, said.
“In order to maintain the pace of growth that’s happening within the industry at the moment and the innovation, we need to match the requirements of the workforce.”
A recent survey by Nominet found that an increase of women in IT could see an extra £2.6 billion a year generated for the UK economy, making schemes encouraging women into IT an important investment in the future.
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Despite this, there is still a lack of women entering the industry and, according to Sleight, old stereotypes surrounding a typical IT employee still exist.
“A lot of the student had this kind of opinion that people working in technology were the geeky nerdy type male and obviously they could see it’s actually different to that," said Sleight.
The GSMA hopes that more events encouraging women and young girls into the IT industry will help to close the gender gap that currently exists in the IT industry.
The government is also doing its best to reduce the current skills gap in the IT industry. As of September 2014, the national curriculum will require computing to be taught in schools from the ages of five to 16, instead of ICT, so children can be introduced to computational thinking from an early age.