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UK tech industry gender imbalance expected to last another 12.5 years

Gender balance in the UK tech sector will not be reached for another 12.5 years, according to industry professionals. Male tech workers are even less optimistic, believing it will be another 14 years until there is an equal number of men and women working in the industry.

The research, carried out by CWJobs, found that most companies are struggling to level the playing field, and almost nine in ten (87%) respondents agree that a gender imbalance still exists. This imbalance is across both pay of female tech workers, as well as overall female representation in the industry.

This vast inequality comes in spite of the fact that a diverse workforce is a key driver of business success, with nearly three quarters (70%) of industry professionals agreeing that gender balance is very important or crucial within these roles. Reasons to strive for diversity include greater innovation (54%), differing viewpoints (45%) and to ensure new technologies are geared towards everyone (42%).

Dominic Harvey, director at CWJobs, said, “Equality is coming – but we cannot afford to sit back and wait until the 2030s. Emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to augmented reality, are developing at a rapid pace and we need to move significantly faster to unlock ideas from the widest pool of candidates. We must take decisive action to attract and hire more women who can improve our nation’s capabilities and global competitiveness.”

The most common reasons for women to be put off from pursuing a career in the tech industry are a perceived male-dominated culture (48%), and a lack of opportunity for promotion or senior roles (40%). Other deterrents include negative perceptions of the roles/work (33%), as well as the recruitment process and interview questions favouring men (31%).

Equal pay and discrimination were among other concerns cited by respondents. Over half (55%) of women believe that they are on the wrong side of a gender pay gap, and this imbalance is not expected to be redressed for another 7.5 years.

Positively, almost three quarters (72%) of respondents believe that their company has taken steps to recruit more women into tech roles. Some of the initiatives companies are adopting to break down barriers included, changing the way they write job ads to avoid unconscious bias (29%), introducing gender balance quotas or targets (24%) and putting emphasis on women in senior roles (23%).

Harvey concluded, “The UK tech sector is more determined than ever to deliver world-class innovation and develop new products and services which will drive change all around the globe. Indeed, the huge demand for tech talent is reinforced by CWJobs’ own data which identified a 7% increase in tech jobs listings in 2018 as companies compete for the top talent. As an industry, we need to build greater technological expertise in current and future generations – and this must include the female half of the population.”

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