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Why aren’t more women working in tech? 5 key factors widening the gender gap

Date Posted: 9 February, 2022

Most people working in tech realise that women are underrepresented in the sector, but not everyone realises how wide the gender gap has become.

According to research by PwC, just 15% of STEM roles in the UK are taken by women, and just 5% of tech leaders are female. These are disappointing figures, demonstrating a clear need for the industry to make significant changes to its culture.

But what’s actually behind this disparity between male and female tech workers within the sector? Let’s take a look at some of the key drivers of the gender gap in tech, with help from ‘Women in Tech: Time to close the gender gap’ – a fascinating report from PwC.

The gender gap starts at school

Unsurprisingly, the issue starts at an early stage. PwC researchers conducted surveys with over 2,000 A-Level and university students in the UK, and found that only 27% of female students were considering a career in tech compared to 61% of men. Just 3% of women said that an IT or technology role would be their first choice.

This seeming lack of interest in a tech career was reflected in the subjects the survey participants chose to study. At both college and university, female students were less likely that their male counterparts to study STEM subjects.

At college level, the gender gap for physics was the most pronounced, with just 7% of women studying it compared to 17% of men. Moving onto university, just 2% of women chose to study engineering and computer sciences, compared to 13% and 9% of male students for each respective subject.

Why aren’t STEM subjects appealing to female students?

Women aren’t choosing to embark on STEM courses for a number of reasons. According to the PwC survey results, these include:

  • Getting better grades in humanities or other essay-based subjects
  • Teachers not making STEM subjects appealing or interesting enough
  • Pressure to get the highest possible grades, with STEM subjects seen as being too difficult to excel at
  • STEM subjects not being relevant to the student’s desired career path.

Technology careers failing to appeal to graduates

Once they leave higher education, why aren’t more women entering IT and tech roles? The number one reason is a lack of information. A huge 61% of women said they didn’t know what working in tech would involve, or didn’t get enough advice to encourage them to look into it further. This is backed up by a further statistic, where 33% of men have a career in technology suggested to them, compared to just 16% of women.

For 26% of the women surveyed, the industry was perceived as being too male-dominated. A final 20% believed that a tech job wouldn’t satisfy their creative aspirations.

The final nail in the coffin for tech as a potential career option for many women was a lack of female role models within the sector. 83% couldn’t name a female leader to inspire them to pursue a career in tech, and only 22% could actually name a famous woman working in the industry. This leaves no successful career path for would-be tech superstars to emulate.

If your company wants to play its part in closing the gender gap in tech, let’s work together. Get in touch with our experts here at Recruitment Group Holdings (RGH)to develop a strategy that meets your goals.