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The fast paced and ever changing world of technology continues to mould our lives.
From the moment we wake up with our alarms, through to the moment we turn out the lights, we are surrounded by multiple technological luxuries. The world is more connected than ever, and will only continue to grow as we invest more in tech. In the UK alone, the technology sector is growing 2.5x faster than that of the overall economy, with London being the second most connected place in the world after Silicon Valley
It is thanks to curious, creative and brilliant minds that we now have iPhones, Microsoft, Uber and Instagram which many of us cannot live without. With this in mind, it is natural to think that this industry would be the one in which the younger generation, both male or female, would feel most comfortable. On the contrary, we continue to hear and read about the low percentages of the female tech workforce. In IT for example, the percentage of global female IT leaders remains at 9%. In the US, women make up less than 20% of tech jobs, even though they make up more than half of the whole US workforce. Why is that?
According to Small Business Trends (2018) and Observer (2017), 74% of young girls express interest in science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) and computer science at the age of 11. Unfortunately, many lose this interest soon after. We see that more and more, this is a result of overall perception, the lack of female role models, mentors and gender inequality. Social pressures at school stipulate that “it’s not cool to like tech” and the fact that most visual cues are of men in this market, does not help - rather it discourages potential female candidates.
For these reasons and more, it is of utmost importance for schools, teachers, parents and working professionals to correct this false sense of inability, feelings of being out of place and the lack of “coolness”. An intervention needs to be done in the early stages and reinforced throughout. Our young women need to understand that tech is not just computers but so much more. We need to make it fun, interesting and relevant for both genders. It is clear that males and females react differently when faced with the same situation. Nowadays, we have content discovery software and cookies for example, that track, analyse and anticipate the things we like to buy, watch and read. The results should be no different if we start to make tailored tweaks early on in the classrooms.
There are multiple support groups and professionals out there that could help schools implement programmes, workshops, tutorials and more. We need to promote and expose our young girls to the women working in this space and have them share their stories. Let’s be frank, who better to inspire them than the women who have made it into the industry? Who will provide examples of the struggles and the potential rewards and opportunities that await them? Sometimes all it takes is a moment, a person or even presentation to motivate and inspire us. That one trigger could make the difference in what our young women do in the future.
The current imbalance in numbers will not be overcome easily. However, if we give young women the tools and encouragement needed to pursue their aspirations in this space, we will trigger a positive and early chain reaction. Let’s intrigue our leaders of tomorrow and make them curious about the possibilities. The simplest of questions could spark their drive for tech - you use tech all the time, aren’t you curious about how it works? Have you ever thought that you would like something to work better or faster? What if you were responsible for making that happen? What if it was you that solved the problem rather than waiting for someone else to do it? What if it was you on stage showing off the next new tech gadget or sensation? The next trending app or AI tech could be your own creation. You can be the next Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg or Susan Wojcicki.
At Tomorrow’s Tech Leaders 2019, we strive to inspire our young women and offer them an opportunity to connect with inspirational women who have broken the proverbial mould and are thriving in the tech industry. You will hear and learn from women at various points in their careers and discover the endless opportunities waiting for you in this space. Join us for the largest Careers Fair for women in tech at Grosvenor House, London on the 30th January 2019.
Register here to attend for free.
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