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The lack of diversity in the UK’s tech sector is an ongoing problem, and progress is slow.
The reasons for this are many, with some people throughout the UK not even having access to the digital technologies which could allow them to progress into a tech career.
The over-riding message for 2023 was not only to encourage diversity throughout the UK’s technology sector, but to develop the inclusive culture needed to maintain the progress that has been made so far.
Increasing the diversity of tech teams seems like a tick-box exercise to many, and there are businesses that still do not have dedicated initiatives aimed at improving the diversity within their organisations.
Data from the Tech Talent Charter showed businesses within its signatories, which are more dedicated to increasing diversity within their organisations, do indeed have a more diverse workforce.
Both women and ethnic minorities represent a higher proportion of the tech workforce in TTC signatories than in the wider UK tech workforce, with both figures growing in TTC companies over the past year.
Despite widespread efforts to increase the amount of diversity across science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields, progress remains painfully slow.
While there is no single solution for increasing the amount of diversity in tech, MPs have called upon the government to do more to investigate and solve the barriers standing in the way of a more representative tech sector.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (STC) launched an inquiry in 2021 to find out why diversity in STEM was lacking, and in 2023 wrote a report suggesting the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology should focus on increasing diversity in STEM going forward.
There are many reasons women don’t choose careers in technology, including a lack of accessible role models and misconceptions about what tech roles actually entail, and it seems things don’t get easier even when women do make it to the workplace.
The pandemic saw a shift from office working to home working, and opinions on whether the workplace should stay that way is mixed.
According to Nash Squared, mandating office days will lead to fewer women choosing to work for a company, with the flexibility that helped them to manage their work-life balance is taken away.
Having flexibility is a benefit that helps many at work, but for women it can be more of a necessity, with the Tech Talent Charter finding care commitments are leading to women having to drop out of the tech sector altogether in some cases.
Aiming to increase the amount of diversity in the technology sector is of no use when an inclusive culture isn’t in place to retain diverse talent.
Data from the Office of National Statistics found that the number of women in the UK’s technology sector declined between the first and second quarters of 2023.
Women were not the only ones dropping out of the sector this year, with Wiley Edge finding that 64% of firms in the UK have lost tech talent from diverse backgrounds over the past year.
Each year, Computer Weekly announces the list of the Most Influential Women in UK Technology alongside an interview with its winner, the Most Influential Woman in UK Tech, which in 2023 went to intelligence analyst and founder of Miribure, Suki Fuller.
As well as the most influential women in tech, names were added to both the list of Rising Stars in the women in tech sector and the Hall of Fame dedicated to honouring women who have made a lasting impact on the technology sector.
Each year, Computer Weekly also publishes the longlist of nominees to shine a light on all of those nominated, which in 2023 reached more than 600.
To announce the winner of the title Most Influential Woman in UK Technology, Computer Weekly runs an annual event alongside Nash Squared to talk about some of the ways organisations can increase diversity in the tech sector.
In 2023, we published our first whitepaper detailing the outcomes of 2022’s event, following the theme “Inclusion = everyone”.
One of the benefits of being part of a women in tech community is the amount of support women in the industry will give to the other women around them.
At Splunk .conf23, a number of experts gather to share some of the lessons they have learned throughout their career, including not being the person who does the party planning to avoid some of the “unpaid emotional work” women are expected to do alongside performing their actual role.
At the Everywoman in Tech 2023 Forum, we also heard advice from women in C-Suite technology positions, who advised those around them to approach their careers with authenticity.
The Covid-19 pandemic took a disproportionate toll on women in the workplace, as gender expectations left women with the burden of caring for others as well as trying to work from home.
Some of this impact has eased in 2023, found Integro Accounting, as pay gaps that exist in the UK’s technology sector, including those between men and women, and the North and the South, closed slightly.
One of the reasons for the pay gap in the technology sector is because of a lack of women in the tops of organisations – higher up roles that typically pay more are disproportionately filled with men.
According to Skillsoft, some of the women in the tech sector seeking new roles are doing so to find new career opportunities where they will be more likely to progress to higher positions.
While the overarching conversation about diversity in the tech sector is about the lack of women or ethnic minorities in the technology industry, there are other groups that are underrepresented, such as those from less affluent socio-economic backgrounds, as those who do not have access to technology are excluded not just from tech roles and skills, but from participating in society in general.
A House of Lords report about digital exclusion across the UK has blamed slow and undedicated government intervention for the extent of this problem, urging the government to develop a better strategy to tackle this issue.