Decline of women in tech down to UK school system, says businesswoman

Decline of women in tech down to UK school system, says businesswoman

A businesswoman is slamming the UK education system, claiming it’s stopping women from making it big in tech. Juliet Moran has worked in tech since the late 90s but says in recent years she’s seen the number of women following careers in the sector drop. She believes the gender bias in schools is stopping girls from taking more of an interest in STEM subjects and claims educators need to be doing more to encourage them.

Currently, just 26% of people working in technology are women and there has been a steady drop in the number of female STEM university graduates. They’ve fallen by between 1 and 2% every year since 2016.

Only 19% of those taking tech-related bachelor’s degrees in Europe are women, and only 23% of those end up in tech roles.

Moran, Technical Director at TelephoneSystems.Cloud, believes the UK should be doing more to encourage girls to follow STEM subjects at school and into further and higher education.

If they fail, she believes businesses will miss out on an incredible pool of talent who currently see no future for themselves in the tech sector.

Moran said: “When I went to university over 20 years ago, I was considered a rarity in tech, but at the time the industry was only just starting to take off. However, my course was still 40% women. I hear stories now from female graduates that they were the only women on their courses.

“Representation is far worse now and it feels to me like we’re going backwards and potentially missing out on a huge pool of talent.

“I think this boils down to schooling and girls feeling they aren’t capable or it isn’t a girl subject, otherwise, we’d see more women choosing to do degrees in the field.

“I’d love to employ more women, but 99% of people applying for jobs at my company are male, and there must be a reason.”

Addressing the shortfall, Moran says that schools lack a serious basic understanding of technology, which is holding back female pupils.

Currently, under 25% of teachers report that they have never received initial or ongoing training in using technology, and under half of pupils have access to an iPad or laptop.

She added: “Despite the fact technology is ever-present in young people’s lives, a lack of investment in hardware and teacher training is a huge barrier to supporting learning about technology.

“Schools lack a basic understanding of technology, and pupils are not being taught the fundamentals of why tech is important, nor being shown the possibilities of a tech career.

“As a mother with a daughter going through education, I see how girls are at a bigger disadvantage and are not pushed towards STEM subjects.

“Given that girls are not starting STEM degrees, it is clear something is happening in the classroom that is excluding half of the kids.

“I believe the curriculum is written with male dominance from the top down, which subtly influences the outcomes in the classroom.

“While some industries have a natural tendency towards gender, such as construction which requires physical prowess, technology really should contain no such bias.

“Something needs to change because what is happening now simply isn’t working and if it continues, there will be no women left to tell the younger generation that it was once possible for girls to work in IT.

“Unfortunately, sexism in the industry starts at a young age, and more needs to be done at school to help girls engage with the idea of a career in technology.”

Women’s graduation rates in STEM disciplines during higher education are declining rapidly. In fact, at current rates, the share of women in tech roles in Europe is heading toward a decline to 21% by 2027.

The major drop-off points for women in tech are at the end of secondary school and at the workforce entrance.

Moran says the decline of women in the sector and the continued downward spiral will disrupt innovation in the industry.

She said: “Women often bring a different perspective that can enhance technology and user experience, which can often be lacking in end products that are developed with male dominance.

“A lack of empathy and understanding of humans is where software can fail. With good testing, it’s never the actual code that’s the problem, and with AI, eventually, that won’t be needed.

“A good understanding of humans, technology and how they interact is essential in the industry and I believe women have the advantage here, it’s just an area that is often missed due to stereotyping.

“If you are an employer and you are not employing women in your tech department, then you are missing out and it will be detrimental to your business.”

When asked for advice to encourage aspiring girls at school into the technology industry, Moran revealed three important tips.

She said: “I think my most valuable advice to girls considering a career in technology would be that the industry desperately needs you.

“With the tech space so male-dominated and a lack of female role models and teachers, it would be easy to think otherwise.

“It is also important to remember that male bravado is there to make them feel better about themselves, but women shouldn’t fall for that game because they have just as much talent and right to be there.

“My final piece of advice would be to consider that technology is one of the most exciting and ever-changing industries to be involved in.

“You will never be bored and there will always be innovative and game-changing projects to work on, so please don’t be fooled by the stereotypes which start in school that make technology feel geeky, unapproachable and boring.”

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Intelligent CXO

View Magazine Archive