In our latest Women in Digital series of blogs Ali Palmer, Technology Consultant, Odgers Interim Management outlines some of the key issues that can help support women into technology roles.
There’s no question that we need to encourage more women into technology. Women represent over half of the creative talent pool in this country, but remain under-represented in the industry.
Our economy needs digital skills to thrive and grow, and encouraging more women into the industry creates diversity which many studies have shown increases the bottom line.
But how do we achieve this? At a foundational level, there needs to be an emphasis within schools to encourage young women to study maths and the sciences. These subjects need to be brought to life and placed within the context of careers. For instance, how many young girls realise that maths and science can lead to careers in areas as exciting and innovative as artificial intelligence?
We are seeing this movement take shape and employers are certainly more receptive about visiting schools to talk to pupils about what they do and the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths. Teachers, however, have an important role to play too.
If teachers embrace the idea of young women going into technology, they can help to inspire a sense of enthusiasm, increase confidence amongst pupils and in turn outline the many future opportunities on offer. All of these can help overcome the perception that technology is a ‘geeky’, male dominated environment. Careers advisors should encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones and show young women that there are many accessible jobs for them within the industry. At such an exciting time for technology, there is great potential for career development.
We’re already seeing this transformation taking place with a number of employers we work with. In recent years, more and more businesses have been specifically requesting women to fill digital roles. They are willing to hire those potentially unsure about a long-term career in technology and train them. It’s a shift in dynamics, and one in which greater workplace diversity is increasingly valued and actively sought.
We’re also seeing women considering a move into technology after having spent their careers elsewhere. They may have some background in computer science, for instance, but their careers have taken another direction and they now want to explore the new technology opportunities out there.
Flexibility is also an attractive option. Some women can be a little afraid that if they take time out or have done so already they are letting the side down. A flexible employer will try and accommodate issues that affect women, such as looking after young children or an elderly parent and introduce workplace practices that provide extra support.
This is really important, and those technology employers that provide this flexibility will find themselves benefiting from a diverse and dedicated workforce, as well as attracting new creative talent.
Watch the latest video blog on How Can We Develop Women in Tech?