Sheridan Ash MBE
Technology and Investment Lead, Women in Technology Leader, PwC
Tech She Can Education Consultant and Learning and Development Lead Author, PwC
The roots of the gender gap in tech reach right back to primary school, so we have to promote STEM to girls from a young age.
Tackling the tech gender gap must start early, says Rebecca Patel.
“Many children leave primary school having already ruled out some careers on gender grounds, changing that must start in early education,” says Rebecca, the Tech She Can Education Consultant and Learning and Development Manager at PwC.
“Most children, teachers and parents don’t realise the breadth of tech careers,” says Rebecca.
“That is why the main focus of Tech She Can is to target nine-to-14-year olds, offering lesson packs free of charge to teachers, parents and carers, looking at areas like tech for the environment, sports, history, travel, and more. They feature technology roles that are available now such as special effects technicians in film, and physiotherapists in sport, as well as potential roles in the future and also include training for those delivering the lessons.
“Research shows that girls and women want careers that can make a difference and improve lives – so our lessons show how tech can have a positive impact on society and benefit others,” says Rebecca.
Collaboration is key
There are so many influential role models in the eyes of a child,” says Sheridan Ash MBE, Technology Innovation Lead and Women in Technology Leader, PwC. “It is so important that they see, hear, or read about women doing interesting and valuable jobs in tech. Teachers and careers advisors play a big part in shaping their dreams and aspirations.”
Research shows that girls and women want careers that can make a difference and improve lives – so our lessons show how tech can have a positive impact on society and benefit others
As one of the Founders of Tech She Can, Sheridan believes it’s vital for businesses to work across industries and collaborate to bring about long-term change. “We must ensure that we’re reinforcing the positive messages and that girls and boys can see relatable, positive, inspiring role models.” She says it’s also important that parents and carers understand the options available. “As well as advising children, they might be in a situation where they have experienced job loss, or are looking to reskill, retrain or return to the workforce.”
“We’re trying to make it easy for everyone to see that tech is used in all walks of life and a tech career can align with many different skills, interests and passions – you don’t have to be a computer geek!” says Sheridan.
“Technology needs to be fit for all of us. A lack of diversity in technology means we run the risk of creating technology products and solutions that are biased and don’t reflect wider society. We must encourage more young females, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, to see technology as a viable and exciting employment option. A significant part of our work has been to showcase women from all backgrounds working in exciting tech jobs, and their different career paths.