Though there have been small improvements when it comes to diversity in the technology sector, the pace of change is too slow.In 2022, just over half (52%) of girls aged 11 to 21 think STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects are for boys, a Girlguiding survey has shown.
The tech industry is still a tight-knit old boys’ club. Women are a minority in most (if not all) tech spaces. If “brogrammer” culture continues, tech will lose any number of talented women to burnout or better opportunities. If the tech industry wants to be inclusive of women, women must be allowed to lead.
The proportion of women at large tech companies remains staggeringly low at 25%, according to Deloitte. Additionally, most women in tech feel more pessimistic about their career prospects now than they did before the pandemic. Nearly 60% of women are expected to change jobs, mostly due to inadequate work-life balance, and more than 20% are considering leaving the workforce.
"I foolishly thought coding was for men who are good at math." Zoe Thomas, 29, from Caerphilly, felt she needed a new challenge but never thought she could work with computers.But after taking evening classes in coding she switched careers from customer service to software engineering for an insurance firm.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that women make up 31% of staff in the wider technology industry.But for software developers, web design professionals and data analysts, the proportion is far lower at just 18%.
Companies across the UK want more women like Zoe to work in the technology sector.
More than 7,500 people work for insurance firm Admiral, which is based in Cardiff, but most of its technology staff are men. Admiral's director of IT, Christine Theodore, said the sector was so fast growing it was vital more women enter the industry.
"These continue to be the skills of the future," she said. "People shouldn't shy away from it, these skills can be taught. I've been in IT for most of my professional life and I feel really passionate that women can definitely be in leadership positions."
Admiral has been working with several companies to appeal to more women, including the social enterprise Code First Girls.It works with more than 100 businesses across the UK to teach women to code, including Zoe.
Girls outperform boys in IT, a Welsh government-commissioned report found, but far fewer girls choose to study the subject.
Creating a level playing field for women in STEM will be a long road. But to get there the most efficiently, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
Related: Learn more about Sabio's Women In Tech Scholarship