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Almost half of young women don’t feel like they have the skills to work in the technology industry, according to research.
A study by Tech City UK, which questioned young people between the ages of 15 to 21 and assessed 80,000 posts on social media website Reddit, found 45% of young women don’t feel like they have the skills to work in tech, and 38% claimed to “lack knowledge” about technology.
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Only 30% of the young people who said they wanted to work in technology were women, with just shy of a quarter of young women claiming technology was “not for people like them”.
George Windsor, senior insights manager at Tech City UK, said more needs to be done to attract young women towards the tech space.
“Diversity is crucial if we are to build world-beating technologies that can improve people’s lives. It is clear that more must be done, both by the technology industry, and in schools, to show young women they are more than capable of excelling in this industry.
The technology industry still holds a number of stereotypes surrounding the types of people who are welcome in the industry, and teachers have admitted to gender stereotyping science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects in schools.
Of the total number of people asked, only 13% of women claimed they wanted to work in the tech sector, compared with 36% of males.
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It has been found that many young women want to be able to see more female role models in the technology space to encourage them into the sector. “There is hope,” said Windsor. “As the technology industry itself becomes more diverse, attracting more female entrepreneurs, coders, engineers, and investors, there are more and more role models for young women to aspire to.”
Many young women said they would rather work in a profession such as law, medicine or accountancy, and 26% said they would like to work in creative and design roles.
Tech UK’s research, which was conducted with Hays Digital Technology, and in partnership with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, also found of those young people who are interested in the sector are most interested because of its fast-paced nature, and 54% said it was because of the number of interesting jobs the industry has to offer.
But there is a lack of awareness of the types of jobs in the technology industry, as well as a lack of understanding about the importance of soft skills such as creativity and communication for tech roles.
Where firms aren’t delivering on some of the aspects of roles young people find most important, such as job security and salary, young people are often taking it upon themselves to create the roles and jobs they want.
A quarter of young people claimed they wanted to start their own business, but the research found that though across Reddit as a whole tech careers were the fifth most mentioned across the site, in the UK, it was only the sixth most mentioned career.
Collaboration between education providers, government and the industry is important in lining up initiatives to encourage young people to enter and stay in the technology industry across the pipeline, and chair of Tech City Eileen Burbidge has previously told Computer Weekly tackling the diversity gap in tech could also contribute to addressing the UK’s skills needs.