Over the last year, gender equality in the workplace has been placed under a much needed spotlight. Back in April, for the first time, companies with over 250 staff were legally required to publish their gender pay gap reports. And more recently, we’ve seen strong momentum for gender parity on social media all around the world.
But even with great strides being taken all the time, it looks like gender equality, especially in the tech industry, is still lagging behind. And despite tech being a progressive, dynamic, and innovative sector, it remains very much a male dominated world.
With all of our lives dominated by smartphones, tablets, apps, and social media, the demand for employers clamouring for the tech skills to keep up is increasing. Not only for the tech companies themselves, but also non-tech companies who need digital tech employees to keep up with the digital world that develops around them.
But, whether a tech or a non-tech company, though jobs in the sector are on the rise, diversity remains low. According to a recent Tech Nation report, only 19% of the digital tech workforce is female, compared to 49% across all UK jobs. That tells you everything you need to know about the sector right now.
One thing these low figures are doing is highlighting the issue. And that’s leading to more and more tech companies dealing with diversity and equality in the industry in a positive way. One of the key challenges the sector faces is the raising of awareness and enthusiasm of tech from an early age, and it looks like it’s headed in the right direction.
One initiative we've come across recently, is Kode With Klossy. An amazing enterprise that vows to “empower girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech” and was set up by American supermodel and entrepreneur, Karlie Kloss, in 2005 after she herself took lessons in how to code.
Her free 2-week summer coding camps all across America hosts girls aged 13-18, where they can gain skills and proficiency in either back-end or front-end web development, or mobile development. The payoff for Kloss is ensuring that every girl gets the opportunity to discover the skills that could shape their (and our) futures.
And Disney are running for the equality cause too. One of the World’s biggest and most well known brands created ‘CODE: Rosie’ back in 2016. It’s a 15-month in-house scheme that gives their already established female employees the chance to switch from their non-tech roles and reinvent themselves as software engineers.
One of the most important aspects of the scheme is keeping every participant's existing job open for them in the event that the world of code didn’t work out for any reason. That certainly gives applicants a safety net, but in CODE: Rosie’s inaugural year, only one chose to go back. Proof enough that just opening the tech door for women is enough for them to kick it down.
Redressing the balance
So with the World’s spotlight firmly fixed on gender equality in the tech industry, it got us to thinking about our own efforts to inspire, inform, and promote, as well as what Elixel can do to redress the balance. Well, as we write this, we’re pleased that Elixel is now an equal employment organisation.
Our last two recruits, Aimee and Natalia, have both joined the team making a really positive impact on the business and how we see it moving forward. Aimee joined us from a skilled but non-tech background, and having her talents and opinions on the team helps us get valuable perspective on our output.
Together, they join Becky, our Finance Director, who is now a board member of Women In STEM Plymouth (WISP). As Tech Facilitator she heads up the WISP group’s efforts to promote the technology aspect of STEM to schools and colleges in Plymouth, and getting the next generation of women in tech inspired and ready for action.
So while things are moving in the right direction, the gap in gender equality within the tech industry is still closing too slowly. But with our collective efforts, the education and promotion about the opportunities and benefits for women in tech can - and should - start even earlier.
If you’d like to have a chat about our own efforts on closing the gap, or find out more about the WISP group, please do get in touch!