New polling has revealed nearly 4 in 10 (39%) women are discouraged from entering the digital sector because they do not feel it is a welcoming space for women. Drawn from the responses of more than 1000 women aged 16-34, the findings highlight the structural and deeply gendered issues still facing women who would otherwise look to pursue a career in a rapidly expanding sector.
The research, carried out by educational services charity NCFE and pollster Censuswide, found this issue was particularly acute among 16-24-year-olds, with almost half (45%) feeling discouraged.
More than half of respondents (53.5%) believe their school or college did not provide them with the skills or understanding required to pursue a job in the sector, while nearly half of women (47%) would like to learn more digital skills, or pursue a career in the digital industry, but do not know how to do so.
More than a third of respondents (35%) believe the sector will always be dominated by men, while 44% (51% among 16-24 year olds) believe a lack of female role models makes them less likely to pursue this as a career.
Commenting on the results, Brona Brillant, Transformation Director for NCFE, said: “These sobering results reflect the deep-rooted issues women face when looking to access the digital sector. These are also issues which are only going to become more acute, as the sector continues to grow in size and influence. Not only does the current system hamper gender equality, but also signifies major issues on a larger economic level. The country cannot hope to be competitive on a world stage in the digital sector if more than half the workforce feels alienated from entering it in the first place.
“The best way to tackle this is to ensure women have the access, skills and qualifications required to break into the sector. Making sure there are accessible courses for women of all ages will make a huge difference and begin to push through the cultural change which is desperately needed.”
Kate Daniels, Portfolio Director at NTT DATA UK, said: “It’s clear that overdue change is needed to make the tech sector more inclusive and welcoming to women. For too long, businesses have relied on the same narrow pool of candidates, missing out on the rich range of skills and perspectives that can only be provided by an equal and diverse workforce.
“At NTT DATA UK, we have implemented a variety of initiatives which seek to foster an inclusive working environment and make careers at NTT DATA UK both accessible and welcoming for all. We remain committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce, and to promoting diverse and inclusive practices across the wider industry as a whole.”