There’s a long way to go before we can ensure that the wonderful world of tech is compelling enough for women to feel comfortable within. First, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the educational priorities of this country if we are to see more women in STEM-related subjects. Their presence in all thing’s tech needs to start at the very first hurdle before they have even started school.
According to university admissions service UCAS, in September 2022, 6,450 female freshers began computer science courses at academic institutions up and down the land. This was up a whopping 23% on the previous year’s number.
Should we be celebrating this growth? Unquestionably. But those celebrations become more than a touch muted when considering that 27,735 men – more than 300% the number of women – started the same courses.
The tech sector will face problems in years to come if this gender imbalance is not rectified. This is why we need to get young girls interested in STEM at the same young ages as when boys’ opinions on the subject are formed. From there, girls with burgeoning interests in tech can also be nurtured and moulded into the pioneers of the future.
But even if an interest in tech isn’t piqued early on in a girl’s life, it’s no barrier to a role in tech. I’m living proof of that, as it’s fair to say there wasn’t much focus on it in my university course when I completed my master’s degree in history.
Women, tech and business
Companies are also making considerable efforts to attract women to the tech space. However, apprenticeships and graduate schemes rub shoulders with policies which make it easier for women to return to or develop a career in tech after childbirth. For example, our maternity pay at Apadmi is six months full to support women and their families during this critical transition.
We also offer professional certifications in agile working to every single employee in the business, regardless of gender or business unit, as a focus on the person’s growth, learning and development.
We also encourage mentoring that doesn’t have women cheering women as its sole preserve. Men are also encouraged to beat the drum for all their colleagues, as the ‘attract, train and retain’ model continues to be a big focus while we provide everyone with the skills to work in a modern tech business.
Bridging the gender gap
The shortage in female tech talent means that, as an industry, the tech sector is missing out on the resilience and diversity of thought and clarity that women bring with them. We’re playing our part in trying to address this by using tools which can neutralise some of the gender bias that might otherwise creep into our job adverts. For example, we’ve seen from psychological studies how women might talk themselves out of applying for a job based on the role profile; we want to talk them back into making their application.
Tech companies can embrace equity by again focusing on all children and giving them fair and equal access to technology and the opportunities it opens up. This is where the socioeconomic imbalance comes to be just as crucial as its gender counterpart. Being visible role models in a community such as Apadmi in Salford helps us move the needle and influence our local area by being an absolute force of nature.
While this is undoubtedly important that we highlight this on 364 days of the year, it’s vital that we also highlight it today.
Laura Herbert, Chief People Officer, Apadmi.
As Chief People Officer, Laura supports and enables our exciting, ambitious growth plans and continues making Apadmi a great workplace. She has joined us after several years working for a digital platform business in the travel industry and is passionate about creating an exceptional colleague experience for our people.