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Employers champion campaign for women to take up STEM careers

The launch of the Tech She Can Charter sees the industry commit to work together to reach more young females across the UK to inspire them to pursue technology careers.  

Currently only 23% of people working in STEM jobs are female. Research by business adviser PwC, one of the charter’s backers, reveals that only just over a quarter (27%) of females say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males.

And only 3% of females say it is their first choice of career.

The reasons why female students are not considering technology roles range from no one is putting it forward as an option to them, they are not given enough information at school about what working in technology involves and a lack of female role models.

Without coordinated action at school age onwards to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse tech talent, the Tech She Can signatories believe the UK could lose its competitive edge on the world stage.

Sheridan Ash, Women in Tech leader at PwC and the Tech She Can Charter founder, said: “Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late. To boost the number of females in technology, we need to take co-ordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school.

“By working together we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives. We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there  in a sector that has the power to change the world.

“Promoting visible and relatable role models is a huge part of this as it is hard for girls to aspire to be something they cannot see. There are many brilliant women working in technology roles right across the UK, from creatives and designers, to coders and data scientists. Technology is open to all and we need to get that message across.”

“We welcome other organisations to sign up to our Charter and take action to solve this important problem.”

The Tech She Can founding Charter signatories are signing up:

  • To work collectively with schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils to consider a career in technology  by developing technology toolkits;
  • To maximise  our impact by targeting schools in the government’s social mobility ‘coldspots’;
  • To celebrate  and promote successful women in tech role models;
  • To ensure  inclusive access to technology roles in their organisations;
  • To support  the right environment to attract, recruit and retain females.
Ms Ash called on other businesses to join the campaign.

The campaign has the backing of government. Margot James pictured, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “We want to be at the forefront of tackling the gender imbalance in the tech workforce and make sure the fantastic opportunities on offer are available to everyone.

“The whole UK government has recently signed the Tech Talent Charter, which focuses on increasing the gender diversity of those already working in tech roles, and we welcome PwC’s new initiative to target and inspire the talent of tomorrow."

PwC Midlands region chairman Matthew Hammond said: “The gender imbalance in technology roles is a key issue of our time that we need to work together to address head on.

We are already seeing the huge impact technology is having on our lives. If the sector and people in technology roles do not reflect wider society, there is a real risk that the products and technology advances are biased.

“The demand for technology skills from businesses is already reaching critical levels and is only set to increase. This is our chance to build a diverse and inclusive pipeline of technology talent which will help position UK businesses at the forefront of innovation and investment in the future.

PwC has partnered with the STEMettes, a UK-wide social enterprise initiative working to inspire and support young women into a STEM career in science, technology, engineering or maths.

The firm has also partnered with the University of Birmingham on technology degree apprenticeships, “ an exciting way for us to start to grow the future of the UK’s technology industry and to open up these careers to a wide range of students, offering a clear pathway to meet the skills demands of the future,” said Mr Hammond.

The Tech She Can Charter has been created following research carried out by PwC into the reasons why females aren’t going into technology careers.

The research was launched at The Science Museum in 2017 with the aim of bringing together different organisations to take action together to change the pipeline of women coming into technology roles.

  • The founding signatories of the Tech She Can Charter include PwC, British Science Association, Business 3.0,  Digital Jam, everywoman, FDisruptors, Girlguiding, InnovateHer, JP Morgan, Modern Muse, NatWest Markets, money.co.uk, Sophos, Smoothwall, TechGirls, Tech Talent Charter, Tesco, T Systems, and Zoopla Property Group. More organisations are expected to join.

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