International Girls in ICT Day is just around the corner, and I couldn't be more excited! This annual event, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is a global initiative aimed at encouraging young women and girls to pursue careers and studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
The tech industry has come a long way since the days of punch cards and mainframes, but there's still a long way to go when it comes to gender diversity. Despite women being just as capable and interested in STEM fields as their male counterparts, they remain vastly underrepresented in the industry. Let’s see some stats around that:
According to the government-funded growth network Tech Nation, nearly three million people, or 9% of the UK workforce, are employed in the UK tech industry and just 26% of those in the tech workforce are women.
According to a 2021 report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women make up only 26% of the computing workforce in the United States.
A study by Eurostat in 2020 found that across the European Union, women accounted for only 17% of people working in information and communication technologies (ICT) occupations.
The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021 found that globally, women only represent 14% of those employed in cloud computing and 20% in engineering.
A survey conducted by the Anita Borg Institute found that only 18% of computer science graduates in the United States in 2018 were women.
These statistics demonstrate that there is still a significant gender gap in tech jobs and how initiatives like International Girls in ICT Day are important steps towards addressing this issue and encouraging more girls and women to pursue careers in tech.
The benefits of encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields are clear. Not only will it create a more diverse and inclusive industry, but it will also ensure that we are harnessing the full potential of our future workforce. Girls and women bring unique perspectives and skill sets to the table, and by providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed, we can create a brighter future for everyone.
Here are a few things you or your organisation can do to help:
Provide role models: Businesses can showcase successful women in tech roles and make them visible to young girls and women. This could include highlighting women in leadership positions, inviting women speakers to events, or creating mentorship programs.
Address unconscious bias: Businesses can work to eliminate any unconscious bias in the recruitment and hiring process by ensuring job descriptions use gender-neutral language, considering diverse interview panels, and reviewing the selection criteria to ensure they don't create barriers to women's participation.
Offer flexible working arrangements: Offering flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help women balance work and family commitments and encourage them to remain in the tech industry.
Provide training and development opportunities: Providing training and development opportunities, such as workshops, conferences, and courses, can help women acquire new skills and advance their careers in tech.
Support employee resource groups: Employee resource groups, such as women in tech groups, can provide support, networking, and professional development opportunities for women in tech roles.
Create a supportive culture: Creating a supportive culture that values diversity and inclusion can help women feel more comfortable in their roles and encourage them to stay in the industry.
But it's not just about the industry as a whole. Encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields can have a profound impact on their own lives and careers. The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries in the world, and it offers a wealth of opportunities for those with the right skills and qualifications. By pursuing a career in tech, girls can open up a world of possibilities for themselves, from high-paying jobs to exciting and challenging work.
So, to all the young women and girls out there who are interested in STEM fields, I say: go for it! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't pursue your dreams, and don't let outdated stereotypes hold you back. The tech industry needs your talents and your unique perspectives, and I can't wait to see what you will achieve.
International Girls in ICT Day is an important reminder that we still have work to do when it comes to gender diversity in tech. But it's also a celebration of the amazing potential of girls and women in STEM fields. So let's keep pushing for progress, and let's inspire the next generation of girls in tech to reach for the stars.