Focus on outcomes to attract women to tech careers
Diversity & Inclusion Girls get put off digital careers at a young age, but the key to changing that is to show how tech changes lives for the better, says Tech Partnership CEO Karen Price.
When it comes to the gender balance in tech, the problem is attracting women in the first place. We’ve done research into this, and it is clear that disenchantment with tech starts young. At primary school over half of girls identify ICT as enjoyable, but by GCSE this has fallen to just over a quarter. The curriculum is at fault, but other issues are at play – for instance, parents and teachers are unaware of the breadth and excitement of digital careers, so they can’t motivate girls with a truthful picture of life in tech. Allied to the widespread negative conceptions of computing careers – that they’re unsocial, nerdy and overwhelmingly male – you can see why girls get side tracked into alternative roles.
Employers are working very hard to make improvements here. The Tech Partnership’s own #mytechfuture campaign is one example: it offers inspiring case-studies for girls, and resources for teachers. With the new focus on apprenticeships, there may be opportunities to reach girls at a younger age, before negative attitudes crystallise, and also to show that a tech career depends on aptitude and enthusiasm rather than qualifications – you can acquire those on the job.
We know that girls tend to be motivated by outcomes – what you can do with tech, rather than the nuts and bolts. Anyone trying to attract girls to technology should bear this in mind – tech is a force for good in the world, and focusing on this is a powerful way of attracting women into the tech workforce.