Developing a new software sisterhood

  15th July 2019       Charmaine Padfield
 IT & Software Solutions, Company News

With the Spice Girls recently completing their UK tour, girl power is firmly back on the menu. Aslef seized the moment and went public with its On Track diversity report less than 48-hours after Sporty Spice et al brought the curtain down at Wembley Stadium. The rail union’s document showed that just 6.5% of train drivers in England, Wales and Scotland are women – a figure that won’t spice up any lives.

Inclusivity, diversity and BAME are buzz words in recruitment right now, with an increasing drive to attract more women to traditionally male-dominated industries and roles. One of those sectors is software. Delve into the history books and you’ll see that women have already made a huge impact in software and tech. Perhaps you have seen the meme on social media informing us that Dr Gladys West – an unassuming black American female – was instrumental in the development of GPS. It was her mathematical modelling of the shape of the Earth and her work on the development of the satellite geodesy models that forms the backbone of this essential, every day technology.

The female software workforce, however, has been miniscule when compared to the men’s. In fact, the statistics surrounding women in the software industry have made for sobering reading. Data released in 2014 showed the percentage of women working in software engineering, grouped according to industry. Even in the most female-populated sector – financial services and insurance – only 23% of employees were women, with only 9% of the technology hardware workforce listed as female.

Fast forward four years and the 2018 Women in Tech Index revealed that around 16% of those working in UK tech were women. Although we have to factor in different methodology and metrics when comparing the results, the overall picture did not reflect an improving gender balance.

Thankfully a shift in attitudes has started and a number of initiatives designed to encourage more women to consider software as a career are gaining traction. The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is beginning to make inroads, aiming to deliver greater diversity in the UK’s tech workforce. It’s a cause supported by companies including BT, Channel 4, Dell and Sky, who are only too aware that there is a looming digital skills gap. The UK needs one million more tech workers by 2020 – a figure that could be met by the untapped female software workforce.

Women In Tech is another organisation supporting ladies who want to break in to software/tech or progress their careers in the industry. It brings together useful guides, resources, advice and events, with an all-female slant across the board. Keeping the message relevant for today’s software industry, Women in Tech highlights schemes such as Women Of Wearbales, TechUP, (a partnership between Durham, York, Edge Hill and Nottingham Universities, giving 100 women the opportunity to retrain for a tech career) and STEM Women Community events.

There’s also the STEMettes – an award-winning social enterprise working across the UK, Ireland and beyond to inspire and support young women into STEM careers. Its panel events, hackathons, exhibitions and mentoring schemes have been set up to specifically help combat the lack of women in STEM, with a focus on targeting female secondary school students, undergraduates and young women.

The focus on females in software is set to stay, and we can expect more coverage of the issue around the European Women in Technology exhibition, which takes place in Amsterdam this November (2019). If you’d like to know more about the types of software and STEM jobs that exist, with a list of the qualifications, skills and experience needed, contact Bond Williams today. We are happy to support all applicants who would like to start or continue to develop a career in software or indeed if you are looking to recruit in the IT sector speak to Bond Williams Professional Recruitments specialist IT division, we know they speak your language.

Charmaine Padfield

Managing Consultant

Charmaine’s extensive recruitment career started in 2001. Heading up our IT Recruitment Division, Charmaine has an uncanny knack of sourcing uniquely skilled talent for our clients and this is coupled with a tenacity and a great work ethic resulting in many recruitment success stories. Her ability to stay calm when …

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