by Katharina Kröger, Marketing Manager at SEH Technology

Over the last decade, we have begun to witness large strides for women in technology across both large corporations and femtech startups. These role models carve the way and show future generations that it’s possible to be ambitious in the technology space. However, this shift towards female representation in the tech industry is not happening quickly enough. In fact, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Resources (CEBR) only one-in-six tech specialists in the UK are women, and one-in-ten are IT leaders. Despite significant growth in the number of women working in IT roles, this research indicates that female representation in the technology sector has stalled over the last ten years. 

Across the board, diversity and inclusion is one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry today, as only 15% of the tech workforce are from BAME backgrounds and gender diversity is currently sitting at 19%, compared to 49% for all other sectors. As the tech industry continues to boom, growing at 2.5 times the rate of other industries, businesses must strive for diversity amid a hiring boom where women and those from BAME backgrounds can become easily underrepresented. Fostering diversity in the tech industry is a catalyst for growth, as increasing the diversity of leadership teams has been proven to lead to better innovation and improved financial performance.

Despite women in IT being the most discussed aspect of promoting a more diverse workforce, the Channel still has a long way to go. Channel leaders must recognise the value of women in positions of influence and make long-term commitments to championing diversity. 

The Value of Women in IT

It has repeatedly been proven that organisations with greater diversity bring in more revenue compared to those that do not embrace diversity in the workforce. It is thought that increasing the number of women working in IT could generate an extra £2.6 billion a year for the UK economy. High-gender-diversity companies deliver better returns, and have outperformed, on average, less diverse companies over the past five years. Businesses that not only hire but also manage to retain more women put themselves in a position to automatically gain a competitive advantage, a benefit that extends to all stakeholders. 

Female representation doesn’t only contribute to the monetary value of businesses, but having a diverse team adds value by bringing forward alternative viewpoints and unique ideas. By nature, interacting with a diverse team forces organisations to prepare better and anticipate multiple perspectives which is key in business decision-making. This enables improved problem solving, boosting performance at all business levels. By bringing together a mix of genders with various backgrounds and ethnicities, the tech industry can ensure that its products and services match the needs of a wider consumer base and begin to eliminate design biases.

How can the IT Channel encourage more female representation

Two of the biggest barriers for women in tech are a lack of mentors and a limited number of female role models. An absence of support within the sector can have an impact on gender diversity as it can cause uncertainty for those who are interested in entering the industry. If companies within the IT Channel celebrate their female tech leaders, it will encourage more girls to pursue their interests and careers in tech, therefore increasing the hiring pool diversity. It is important that young girls have strong role models of other successful women in STEM to demonstrate that they have the opportunity to succeed within this industry too. As well as this, ensuring that women are in influential positions also means that they can engage their male counterparts on the topic of gender equality.

Channel businesses also need to consider the responsibility that this lack of representation puts on the women in their organisation. It is important that employers take accountability and seek to learn from the women in their team. Workplace culture drives turnover and significantly affects the retention of underrepresented groups. Women in STEM careers are more likely to leave within the first years compared with those who aren’t in a STEM-related job, according to the Women In Tech Network. Reasons for leaving include a lack of role models and significant personal sacrifices they’ve had to make. More than half of female tech professionals in the UK feel the industry is not doing enough, therefore businesses within the IT Channel need to ensure that they are listening to women within the sector and making tangible contributions to uplift and encourage women in tech. 

Change for diversity within the tech industry is certainly underway but we must look ahead to ensure that this progress continues. Channel businesses must focus on building opportunities for the future women in tech as well as supporting and championing the women currently in their team, that way we will all progress. 

by Katharina Kröger, Marketing Manager at SEH Technology

Visit Katharina’s LinkedIn profile here