Women are still massively under-represented in the tech world – and the problem is likely to get worse rather than better.
Last year less than one in six – a mere 16 percent – of the 1,129,000 people working as IT specialists in the UK were women. Of the 753,000 people working in the IT sector, just one in five were women and only one in ten IT workers in the IT industry were female.
And at £640 per week, the median gross weekly rate of pay for female IT specialists was 16 percent (£120) less than the figure for men working in IT roles (£760) and the level of pay for women IT roles has been consistently below that of male IT specialists in each of the past 10 years, according to the analysis by tech employers body e-skills and IT professionals body the BCS .
They warn the gender imbalance throughout the tech industry must be resolved if the UK is to meet the growing demand for IT professionals: e-skills calculates there is a need for around 129,000 new entrants a year into tech job roles through to 2015, with a minimum of around 22,600 likely to be filled by people joining from education.
Gillian Arnold, chairperson of BCSWomen, said: “The continuing decline in women entering the IT profession is a real threat for the UK and an issue that clearly we need to address.”
She said while progress is being made in some areas: for example, an increase in the number of women working in IT part-time, it’s still not enough.
“We know girls and women are good at computing and we need to translate that ability into action, and inspire them to see IT as a career option that offers them great career opportunities,” she said.
Employers argue that the key to reducing the gender imbalance lies in schools, colleges and universities – which is where the gender divide starts. Fewer girls take tech GCSEs with the gap increasing at A-Level and continuing into higher education and from there into the professional workforce.
“The lack of females taking IT related qualifications directly impacts upon the proportion of females that are employed today as IT specialists,” the report says. And the problem is getting worse as the number of girls taking IT qualifications continues to decline: “the employment situation is likely to worsen further – unless there are some significant and meaningful interventions,” the report warned.
It’s worth noting that when girls do take part in computing subjects at GCSE and A-Level they outperform boys. The research shows that 76.3 per cent of females (compared to 69.2 per cent of males) who took an IT related full course GCSE were awarded A*- C grades.