In a recent article, we shed light on the growing problem of the digital skills gap, and how businesses are struggling to source the right people with the right technology skills needed to drive forward their digital transformation initiatives.
And whilst the digital skills gap is an undeniable problem for the worlds of business and technological innovation alike, it is not the only gap within organisations today. An increasingly burgeoning problem is – simply put – the number of women in tech. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof.
A report by PwC on the role of women in tech in the UK revealed that, in STEM fields, women only accounted for 15 percent of employees. Perhaps more distressing is the fact that only 15.8 percent of undergraduates in STEM fields are women, and a quarter of students say they’ve actively been put off a career in technology because it’s too male dominated.
With this in mind it doesn’t seem surprising that after peaking in 1991 at 36 percent, the rate of women in computing roles has been in steady decline.
There are more than enough facts and figures on the topic, and we could spend the majority of this post reeling them off, but they all say the same: there simply aren’t enough women in tech today, nor has there ever been.
Whether you’re looking at start-up founders, investors or people in computing and technical roles, women often find themselves in rooms full of men. Is it any wonder, then, that it’s called a “boy’s club” and the word “programmer” has become synonymous with “brogrammer”?
It’s at this point you might be thinking that the title of this article is tastelessly blasé: evidently, based on what’s already been said, the gender gap in tech is a monumental problem and not one that should be jokingly pushed aside for the sake of a witty title.
But bear with me, because I am in no way trying to discredit the very real problem that the tech industry faces. What I am trying to do is show that, by focusing efforts on closing the gender gap, we might also be able to solve the issue of the digital skills shortage.
In a world where there is already a severe lack of digital skills, which is halting critical digital transformation initiatives and having negative ramifications on business revenue, are the two related?
Could increasing the number of women in tech alleviate the burden that is being created by the shortage of tech workers in general?
There are probably thousands of women who could – and should – enter the world of tech, and there are definitely thousands of technology jobs that businesses are desperately trying to fill in order to transform their organisations.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, therefore, it’s not a massive jump to say that increasing the number of women in tech would reduce the number of unfilled technology related vacancies, because there would be more talent in this skills short industry. Clearly, we can’t afford to be isolating an entire gender when businesses are already struggling to source the talent they desperately need.
Now there have been numerous commentaries on how the gender gap can be rectified; from keeping early years experiences as gender neutral as possible to harnessing the rise of blockchain, everyone has an opinion on what can be done to address the imbalance.
Clearly, there is no one sure fire way of how to increase the number of women working in tech – if there were, you’d want to hope that something had been done about it already. So, we’re not here to say we’ve worked out how to fix the gender issue, or the digital skills shortage by that matter, but more of an emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that addressing one could have a positive impact on the other.
So, whilst there may not be an easy solution or a simple reason as to why there are so few women in the world of tech one thing is for sure: an inability to recognise the growing gender disparity in the industry will only continue to propagate the dire digital skills shortage that is wreaking havoc on almost every business today.
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