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Women in tech and the impact on innovation

It’s estimated that women make up 50% of the UK workforce. However, when delving into the gender representation of specific sectors, it becomes apparent that some industries are still falling behind the mark. Recent statistics have brought this disparity into even sharper relief with the current economic climate disproportionately impacting women in the workplace.

The tech sector is one such example. In the UK, only 24% of roles are filled by women. The reasons for this vary from the lack of visible representation to biases, stereotypes, and the perception that STEM is a male-dominated arena. This gender bias undoubtedly limits the potential of what the tech sector could hope to achieve.

Proactive steps have been taken by industry bodies to strike a better balance. Yet a new study of ONS data has revealed that the tech sector is now facing a new gender equality challenge – retention of female staff and creating opportunities for them to pursue a long-term career in tech.

The study shows that the proportion of female employees in the UK tech sector has declined for the first time in five years. In 2018, the figure was 17% and was rising in small annual increments to 22.7% in 2021. However, the percentage has since dropped to 20.1%. This is a result of more men entering the tech workforce and the number of female workers falling in absolute terms.

Women are also being disproportionately affected by the redundancies impacting the industry at a global level. This has a trickle down effect on innovation and broader representation in a number of key sectors in the long term that the tech industry services. From finance and renewables to healthcare and pharma, we need the brightest and most ambitious minds to be supported long-term.

While the tech sector has been an enabler of many equitable businesses, it has also come under scrutiny for becoming a less diverse place. Rewind to pre-pandemic and there was an upward curve when it came to gender equality (and often commercial performance in parallel) among senior leadership, innovation, and governance teams. However, there are signs this might be reversing. If we don’t correct the trend, then there will be bigger problems on the horizon as role models fall away for any new entrants into the world of work.

We’ve worked with some incredible female leaders over the years and importantly several of our clients are taking action to not only serve as role models but inspire a new generation of women to enter tech via upskilling. Alif Academy is one example, offering education to support underrepresented groups and address the inequality that exists.

“As the director of Alif Academy, an initiative dedicated to providing female and male Tajikistani residents and underprivileged groups including Afghan refugees with free STEM courses, we have to question why such inequality exists, and what can be done to address the challenges being faced,” Habiba Aslonova, Director of Alif Academy (quoted in Business Cloud).

At PHA, we will continue to champion the stories of women driving change in their fields. Doing so will help promote gender equality in underrepresented sectors like tech, and inspire future generations.

Get in touch with the team