There is no denying we live in a technology driven world, it’s everywhere – even this you’ll be reading via a technology platform, whether it’s sat at your desktop computer or reading it on the way to your next meeting using the smartphone in your hand. As of February 2018, 83% of mobile phone users used a smartphone, dominating the mobile phone industry– it’s almost impossible to not make your digital mark.
So why, with this surge in technology usage, are more girls not getting into the tech industry for employment?
In computer science, the growth in the number of female graduates was far behind that of their male counterparts, with women representing only 15% of computer science graduates in 2016/17. Is it down to a lack of knowledge, to gender stereotypes, self-belief that ‘girls can’ or a combination of all of these?
Smart Apprentices CEO, Fiona Hudson-Kelly has just been nominated by ComputerWeekly.com as one of the Most Influential Women in UK Tech 2018. She is part of a list of 200 women who are changing the perception of the technology industry, empowering more women to get into the industry, starting with girls at school, to get them to consider studying STEM subjects.
Since the launch of its list of influential UK women in tech in 2012, the list has expanded from the top 25 to top 50, allowing the award to showcase as many of the industry’s influential women as possible. The list includes women from top UK companies including; HSBC, IBM, Vodafone and Ofcom. You can see the full list of nominees here.
A gender gap in the tech industry is clear, but with so many female role models out there, the encouragement for young girls is there – if only it was clearer where these young girls went for motivation. Company KPMG are moving the women in tech movement forward with their campaign, ITs Her Future, designed to boost the number of women joining the company in technology roles, including those beyond the traditional rebrick universities and taking more grads from non-IT or non-Stem backgrounds.
The programme assigns a senior leader as a mentor to each girl, who then gives them support, space and the opportunities they need to grow. With this kind of mentoring, it’s likely many more women will continue with IT as a career choice and go on to work in senior positions at top companies – much like those nominated by ComputerWeekly.com.
Who do you think of when you consider a software developer?
Unfortunately, although not correct many stereotype developers as geeky blokes in their bedroom coding and hacking, which of course isn’t the case necessarily but does put some females off applying for these roles. This is where there needs to be additional focus on changing the perception of what a computer science career looks like and we’re hoping awards and successful women like Fiona will help to do this.
Even at Smart Apprentices we have women who work as part of our development team including an IT Support apprentice. We must practice what we preach, you can’t promote women in tech without having your own in your business.
It’s not to say we should focus completely on young females getting into the world of tech through school either, women at any point in their careers could switch to a role in technology. Whether it’s those returning from maternity leave or perhaps someone looking for a career change after years in another industry. These women are already experienced in other areas and the skills they have are likely to be great attributes to strengthen their role in the tech industry.
There are plenty of ways we can encourage women to get into tech, and it doesn’t take as much effort as you may think. So, if you work in the tech industry, why not have a look at your business and see how you can improve – you might attract the next female Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you never know. And if you’re a woman thinking about making the move into technology, we say go for it!
We asked our IT Support Apprentice Maddy what it's like to work in a team of boys and what attracted her to an IT role in the first place!
What attracted you to studying technology?
I have always found technology and the world of IT interesting and exciting. At GCSE level I took ICT and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and after that when I went to college, I completed a Level 3 Computing BTEC which furthered my interest even more, as I was able to solely study IT for the course of two years. During that time I completed a range of IT topics, such as security and data protection in IT, IT based e-commerce, networking in IT, object orientated programming (game making), event driven programming (app making), and the hardware side of IT too as we got to take apart and put back together computers which was highly interesting.
Now that I am an apprentice at Smart Apprentices, my IT knowledge has been elevated even more and I can’t wait for what else I am going to learn in my time here.
How do you feel being the only girl in the support team?
Being the only girl in the support team doesn’t matter to me – I don’t even notice it. All of the team are constantly helpful and kind, and I don’t feel alone ever or separated from them even though I am of the opposite gender. I always feel like I am able to speak to them and ask them for help without issue. So being the only girl in the support team doesn’t make a difference to me and to how I well I am able to communicate with them.