A recent report reveals that women are not thriving despite unemployment being at its lowest level in 45 years and that the best-paid jobs in today’s evolving economy are going to men.
The report by the charity, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) also warned that women are suffering at both ends of the scale. It found that nearly 400,000 jobs traditionally highly populated by women in the banking, retail and public sector, have vanished since 2011, whilst emerging roles in the today’s economy do not seem to be attracting women.
The RSA’s Field Guide to the Future of Work showed that software developers and programmers were among the fastest growing occupations, but the research shows that only 5 per cent of new programmers and coders are women. Benedict Dellot of the RSA Future Work Centre commented that whilst it was known that the tech sector was highly gendered, he was shocked at the scale of the problem.
This is not the first time that the gender gap in the digital sector has been highlighted. An article by Women In Technology suggests that fewer women study technology-based subjects whilst at school and university which means that employers have a relatively small pool to select from when recruiting. This inherent gender bias in selecting subjects at school could be due to the deficiency in female role models in the sector, although the number of women in high-level roles in technology is slowly increasing.
A report issued by Nominet indicates that increasing the number of women working in IT could create an additional £2.6 billion annually for the UK’s economy, suggesting that greater promotion of these subjects in schools, colleges and universities would be beneficial to not only the female workforce.
Industry recognises that a more balanced workforce has a positive impact in many areas and organisations are now promoting traditionally male roles to the new female workforce emerging from education. Various studies have revealed that companies across all sectors with a higher percentage of women on the board consistently deliver better operating results and higher sales. They also fare better in periods of increased economic volatility.
The Tech Talent Charter requires signatories to make a number of pledges relating to their approach to recruitment and retention and has nearly 300 signatories from organisations within a wide variety of sectors. Its first Tech Talent Charter report was launched in January 2019 and reveals that businesses struggle to appeal to women and retain them in engineering and programming roles where the gender split is 85 per cent male and only 15 per cent female. At the launch event for the report, the Minister for Digital, Margot James revealed that only 11.7% of computer science A-Level students are women.