Future of work

Why women in tech should be at the forefront of business recovery

Despite recent progress, women are underrepresented in many technology roles. Anna Brailsford, CEO at not-for-profit social enterprise Code First Girls, explains what organisations can do to help. 

Women make up only 17% of IT specialists in the UK. Just 35% of women pursue STEM subjects at higher education level. But this is changing.

As we settle into 2021, companies globally must take the opportunity to reshape the way we work and fight to achieve gender parity in the workplace. By empowering women to upskill in technology, businesses across industries can establish a work culture that enables women to thrive.

At a time when enterprises are facing increased uncertainty, a highly skilled and diverse team is critical for the success of the company.

The challenge remains, however, in early-stage employability and providing women with the means and support to learn skills at the start of their careers.

This critically needs to be addressed as the pandemic and its economic fallout have a severely negative impact on gender equality, undoing the progress made over the past decade. Recent data from McKinsey & Company reveals women’s’ jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to Covid-19 than men’s’ jobs. While women only make up 39% of global employment, they account for 54% of overall job losses.

So how can 2021 act as a real springboard for change in these trying circumstances?

A 2021 vision for women in tech 

We will see forward-looking organisations continue to work with their existing employees and provide opportunities to support upskilling and personal growth. Whether in person or using a video-conferencing tool, businesses can partner with organisations dedicated to creating tailored training sessions – empowering attendees with new skills and perspectives. Not only does this help futureproof the business, but this also demonstrates a commitment to a company culture that values its employees.

Companies also need to ensure they are properly collecting and analysing the data they collect on gender diversity within the tech space. It will take time and investment, but it is critical to see how they are progressing against their peers on areas such as attraction and retention to see if there needs to be a change in strategy.

Governments and enterprises also have an important role to play moving forward. There needs to be further collaboration between both sectors to encourage more female students to pick up STEM or other relevant qualifications within this space. By doing so we can begin to bridge the shortfall of future talent within the tech industry.

As economies and businesses re-open, make sure it isn’t business as usual.

There has never been a more dynamic period to be working for a technology company, as they look to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands. But this requires a fresh look at the skills available within the field.

Therefore, as businesses plan to build back better post-pandemic, they must take the opportunity to approach things differently. This rebuilding is a once in a generation chance to tackle bias and close the digital skills gap.

Educating and upskilling women in the tech space will result in a stronger and more unified fightback against the damage caused by Covid-19, as companies continue to rapidly increase digitalisation throughout the year. Diversity is also a way to maximise the talent pool at your disposal, which has been proven to positively impact the bottom line.

As economies and businesses re-open, make sure it isn’t business as usual. Take the initiative to set an industry example for 2021 by educating and upskilling women. The businesses that get this right – and build a diverse and inclusive workplace for women – will prosper.

Main image credit: ThisIsEngineering RAEng via Unsplash