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British Gas has launched its own women in tech network to enable its female employees working in science, technology, engineer and maths (Stem) roles to network and collaborate.
The network was the brainchild of British Gas data science manager Kathleen Mock, who saw it as an opportunity to support women in the industry and encourage more of them to pursue a career in Stem.
Mock already acts as a Stem ambassador, and talks to young girls to break down the male stereotype image of the Stem industries and encourage girls to seek Stem careers.
She said: “I would love to see more women working in tech, as it’s a sector full of innovation, fun and creativity. Through British Gas’ Women in Technology network, we hope to change perceptions about the tech world and inspire, support and encourage more women to be part of this exciting industry.”
As part of the network’s launch, British Gas carried out research into the tech industry which found that three-quarters of professionals aged between 25 and 34 consider the tech industry to be male-dominated.
The research also found that 75% of people think men are more likely than women to take leadership roles in the tech sector.
Many said the technology and Stem sectors lack female role models, with few women represented to show girls what future careers they might have, and all the women who are in the spotlight holding roles that young girls view as unobtainable.
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One in five women surveyed said they were put off a career in tech by a lack of role models and a fear that they would not be taken seriously in the workplace. Half of the women surveyed said they would be more likely to join the industry if there were more schemes offering mentorships or more support networks.
The industry as a whole believes that until more men can see the benefits of having gender equality in tech, diversity in the industry will not increase. British Gas’ research found that 68% of men said they would like to see more women joining the industry.
Firms in the tech and Stem sector are beginning to look for skilled workers with both technical and soft skills as collaboration on projects becomes more important. Some 75% of the people surveyed said the introduction of women into a tech environment would benefit others in the workplace, because women are more likely to have soft skills, such as good communication.