Why are there so few women working in technology? Research shows that women account for just 17% of the technology sector in the UK. Part of the problem, it seems, is that fewer women are choosing to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at school, meaning there’s a drop-off at degree level.
A recent study of 1,000 women in the UK points out that those looking to pursue a technology-related career have a five year period in which to gain the necessary qualifications. While many girls are attracted to STEM subjects before the age of 11, their interest appears to dwindle in their teen years – at a point in which most of us decide what we’re going to study at university.
In January this year, the UK government made the all-important step of signing the diversity initiative, Tech Talent Charter, which aims to bridge this digital skills gap in the technology industry. The scheme will call into question recruitment and retention practices, and set out new strategies for companies to follow. Just recently, the UK digital minister, Margot James, wrote to major tech firms, encouraging them to sign up to the Charter.
Our Technology Project Manager, Martha Hannis, is a prime example of the sort of women that the sector’s crying out for. Previously a Digital Project Support placement student, she’s progressed through the ranks with SilverDoor Apartments, achieving a first-class honours in Business IT, and providing valuable development support.
Here’s what she had to say about her role and the wider technology industry as a whole.
So, Martha, what does your role involve?
As Technology Project Manager, I oversee the completion of all technology projects at SilverDoor, from inception to completion. I manage multiple projects at once, and collaborate closely with key stakeholders to capture requirements.
It’s my responsibility to look after the workload of the development team in our London and Lancaster offices through ticket writing, sprint planning and sprint retrospectives. Where required, I propose technical solutions to business cases, and analyse our existing technology products.
What’s it like being one of the only women in a predominately male department?
I’ve got used to being in an all-male environment. At university, I was one of only four girls on a course with over 100 boys.
It does have its challenges, as our interests are largely different, but we equally have a lot in common. I love everyone in my team, and can honestly say I class them all as friends. So far, it’s been really eye-opening, and I’ve gained a lot of insight into the male brain.
What sorts of comments have you encountered as a female in technology?
“You’re in the wrong room; marketing lectures are next door”
“Oh, this is something techy so you won’t get it”
“You’re the girl in technology? We thought you were going to look like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda”
Why are there so few women working in technology?
I think that previously there’s been a stereotype that only men study or work in technology. But, thankfully this is starting to change. Five years prior to me studying Business IT at Manchester Metropolitan University there were no girls at all on my course, so four is definitely a positive step.
What’s the solution to this gender-gap?
What’s needed is a change in mentality, at both a micro and macro level. There’s a consensus that all things tech-related are for men, but that’s really not the case. Women interested in technology need to take it upon themselves to study the right subjects, regardless of what their friends might be doing. Only then will we start to see a levelling out.
What advice can you give to other females pursuing a career in technology?
Don’t be intimidated. If you have an interest or excel at something in technology, don’t let the stereotype hold you back. Be yourself – at the end of the day, we’re all human.