Study reveals shortage of female professionals in British IT industry
The UK IT industry is still suffering from a serious lack of female talent, a new report has found.
The high number of budding technology companies in the UK has made it a hotbed for IT expertise – but it is also suffering from a talent shortage in a number of crucial disciplines. Now a new report has indicated that increasing the representation of women in the industry is an important way of redressing the balance.
According to the Women in IT Scorecard from the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT, and e-skills UK, fewer than one in six of the UK’s 1,129,000 IT specialists are female. Interestingly, that figure actually rises slightly to 19 per cent in the devolved countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of more than 750,000 working specifically within the IT sector across the UK, the figure increases marginally to 20 per cent.
Women were found to be more likely to work in technician and engineer-level roles than men – over a third of women did these jobs compared to a fifth of men – but they were also less likely to hold so-called “professional occupations” such as development roles.
Some 46 per cent of female IT workers were in these roles, compared to 57 per cent of men.
That translated into a striking pay gap between men and women in the industry – the median gross weekly pay for female IT specialists stood at £640 per week, £120 lower than that of men. For the past decade, the recorded wages of women in IT roles have stayed below the pay taken home by men.
In many cases, BCS says that this comes down to engaging girls in IT from an early age and encouraging them to study related subjects.
Less than seven per cent of the students sitting A levels in computing are female – yet the report argues that girls who do take the subject tend to outperform boys.
“We need to work together, as individuals, educators and businesses to tackle the issue,” says Gillian Arnold, chair of BCSWomen. “We know girls and women are good at computing and we need to translate that ability into action, and inspire them to see IT as a career option that offers them great career opportunities.”