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Half of young girls don’t think tech careers are exciting

Young women are put off of technology careers because they don’t perceive them to be exciting, according to research

Half of young women know about technology careers but think they are “unexciting”, according to research by fashion e-commerce group YOOX Net-a-Porter (YNAP).

The study found that more than two thirds of young women think roles in the technology industry are related to IT consultancy and gaming, and young women are less likely to associate technology careers as being in creative industries, as opposed to sectors such as engineering, architecture, telecoms and finance.

But Deborah Lee, Chief People Officer at YNAP explained the common stereotypes surrounding technology careers, such as people working in isolation and only writing code, are misconceptions.

“Today, tech is a creative and flexible discipline, where consumer products and experiences are designed in a collaborative environment,” she said. “This is especially true of tech and fashion, which together offer a wealth of opportunity which can only increase as these two industries continue to converge through e-commerce.”

Stereotypes surrounding the types of roles and people in the technology industry scare young people off of pursuing these careers despite the fact that creative skills are becoming an increasingly important part of the sector.

Only 7% of young women associated technology with retail, and 8% thought technology careers are available in the fashion industry.

YNAP’s research found young men also don’t associate tech careers with the creative industries, but are more receptive to tech subjects and think a career in tech would be exciting.

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At YNAP, two thirds of its overall talent are female, and the firm has partnered with Imperial College London to create CodeLab, an initiative to encourage young people – in particular girls – to consider technology careers, as well as make young people more aware of the technology roles that exist in the fashion industry.

Almost 40% of young women asked said they would be more likely to study science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects if they knew these technical careers could be in the fashion industry.

But young people’s education and career choices are heavily influenced by teachers and parents, who have been known to hold the same negative stereotypes about the technology industry as children.

Fewer than 5% of parents in the UK associate successful tech careers with the fashion industry, and are more likely to think of tech careers in relation to the finance sector.

It has previously been found that very few parents want their children to be technology entrepreneurs, but YNAP believe this is due to a lack of awareness around the roles available in the industry, as 36% of parents asked said they would encourage their kids to study Stem if they knew it would lead to a fashion career.

Susan Eisenbach, Professor of Computing, Imperial College London said: “Girls decide very young that going into computing is not for them. Through Imperial CodeLab and our partnership with YNAP, we hope to break down barriers and excite girls about careers in tech. By providing them with positive role models and equipping them with skills in problem-solving, creativity and computational thinking, we hope to inspire a diverse next generation of tech innovators.”

To make parents, teachers and children alike more aware of the roles available in the technology industry, as well as the sectors these roles fall into, the industry has put an emphasis on the importance of making role models more visible and accessible.

Read more on Diversity in IT

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