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The number of women working in digital has dropped from 33% in 2002 to 26% in 2015, according to research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
The UK average for the proportion of women in other sectors is 47%.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK’s digital and creative industries are amongst our biggest success stories, but for them to continue to flourish we must make sure the next generation of talent is being taught, trained and nurtured. Initiatives like TechFuture Girls that encourage young women to consider a career in this dynamic sector will play an important role in addressing this issue.”
Karen Price, director of the Tech Partnership, said: “The news that female entrants to the digital sector are falling is very disappointing. We want to show women and girls that there are great opportunities in the digital sector, and that the rewards are great too.
“It’s key that we influence girls from a young age and our TechFuture Girls programme aims to get girls of 10 to 14 engaged with computer skills and IT through after-school clubs. In 2022, these girls will be making choices about further study and careers, and making sure they know how important digital skills are is vital.”
Furthermore, the report found that 40% of employers had lost business due to a lack of staff and not being able to fill posts.
Ross Targett, CEO and co-founder of Code Kingdoms, said: “To increase the number of females choosing this career path – and to counter the perception of computing being a boys’ thing – we need to make sure all children have access to technology in the classroom at as early an age as possible.
“As the report states, there are a number of schemes like TechFuture Girls that are doing great work to redress the gender imbalance, but we really need to be providing children with access to technology and appropriate teaching well before they reach secondary school.”
Alice Bentinck, an investor in Code Kingdoms and founder of Code First: Girls, said: “At Code First: Girls, we see that many of the female university students who join the programme were exposed to code at a young age. We need to make sure that coding games, like Code Kingdoms, make it into young girls’ hands, so that they have an awareness of code which can re-spark an interest later in life.”
Read more about diversity in IT
- Paul Saunders, director of technology at the University of Dundee, talks about the cultural differences between the US and the UK in business attitudes.
- Intel has committed itself to hiring more women and ethnic minorities, and is calling on other tech firms to do the same.
- We all have to do our part in tackling the IT skills shortage in the UK to ensure the industry continues to grow.