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Tech She Can: boosting the number of women in tech

6 December 2018 | Emily Maginess | About a 6 minute read
Tags: Learning and development, STEM, Women in Tech


You don’t have to look far to find statistics about the shortage of talent in the tech industry, especially women in tech. According to research by PwC, only 15% of people working in STEM roles in the UK are female and just 3% of females in the UK say a career in tech is their first choice. This prompts the question that many have asked: what can we do to change this?

 

The Tech She Can® Charter is looking to give guidance to the industry and help organisations work together to increase the number of women working in technology roles in the UK. Earlier this year, AND Digital signed up to the charter and in so doing, formalised our commitment to driving change. Through the charter, we plan to do that in a number of ways:

1) To tackle the root cause of gender inequality in the industry by focusing on inspiring and educating young girls and women about the diverse careers available in technology.

2) Campaigning and influencing policymakers to ensure technology is an open, inclusive and rewarding career path for all.

3) Challenging and rethinking the portrayal and image of technology as a male-dominated interest and career.

 

Addressing gender diversity in technology – like any industry – is of course no easy feat and requires a long term, sustained effort to change. For AND, that’s what Tech She Can represents: a formal statement of our intent to make a difference.

 

So what are the blockers? 

 

1. You don’t know what you don’t know

There will always be gaps in your knowledge and many topics that you won’t even realise you know absolutely nothing about! This is true for everyone, and even more prevalent in students. PwC’s research shows that students don’t have enough information about what working in technology involves and how it is shaping the world we live in. Technology companies can help address this by partnering with a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) charity or organisation.

At AND Digital, we decided to work with STEM Learning, which is the largest provider of education and careers support in STEM. Through their ambassadors programme, ANDis offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. The great thing about this programme is that you can volunteer as an individual, or as a company.

 

2. Try before you buy

In the last few years, there has been a move to create alternative entry routes into professions. With this changing landscape, the tech industry is in a position to carefully consider increasing  the availability of apprenticeships, partnerships with universities, shadowing and work experience opportunities at younger ages.

Admittedly, offering these sorts of programmes can initially be time-consuming for companies to setup, but the benefits to the students and the companies are undeniable. For students, they get early exposure to our industry, and companies build their early careers talent pool – a critical necessity for every technology company currently fighting to attract tech talent. For a number of years, we have been hiring placement year students on one year internships and have seen many return to us when they graduate – take a look at the experience of one intern at AND Digital.

 

3. You can’t be what you can’t see

Did you know 78% of students can’t name a famous female working in tech? Can you? If so, how many? Without representation and role models at all levels, it’s hard for new entrants or career movers to visualise a career in technology – which in turn means many may never regard it as even an option.

At AND Digital, we’re working hard to raise the visibility of women in technology, supported by our Women in Leadership group, but it’s time we all shout louder about the role models already working in tech, and recognise those who are operating at the top of their field. We also recognise that there is much more we can do to support women to achieve top positions in the industry, more to help women reach their full potential.

Help us celebrate the achievements of women in technology: shout it out on social media, in the classroom, in the meeting room and even when talking to your kids.

 

4. We can do more, but not without support

As well as attracting more women into the sector, we need to make sure that they can progress by providing an attractive and inclusive working environment. This requires a specific focus. At AND, we’re dedicated to improving the way we support women, from attractive return to work programmes to our female-orientated mentorship initiative, Rise and Shine.

At the recent WeAreTechWomen conference in November, we asked a few AND Digital attendees for their thoughts on what mindset changes need to happen to help women feel empowered to achieve more in their careers:

 

Eleni Kola, Graduate Product Developer at AND Digital, said:

“We need to focus more on how we actively encourage diversity of thought in the workplace – to encourage everyone to question, explore new opportunities and understand what is really happening around us, both in the tech industry and more generally in society. A change in our way of thinking will help us to improve and create a world that we would all like to work in.”

 

Navjot Sharma, Senior Product Developer at AND Digital, said:

“In order to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry, women should not miss any opportunity that comes on their way – grab it with both hands. Not because it’s a race we need to win, but it is a a challenge we need to address by breaking stereotypes, meeting other successful women, listening to their talks and reading their stories. To do that, we all need to push ourselves forward.”

 

Amruta Mane, Product Developer at AND Digital, said:

“‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable’. This quote from the WeAreTechWomen conference has stayed with me. I believe we should not restrict ourselves by conforming to preconceived perceptions, but feel empowered to put ourselves into new situations – this mindset change will enable everyone to learn and progress faster.”

 

Only through collaboration and partnership can we generate the momentum to achieve a lasting increase in the number of females pursuing technology careers. Take a look at the Tech She Can® website to find out more, or follow the #techshecan hashtag on Twitter to join us in celebrating women in tech.

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