Why aren’t there more women in tech?
It’s a question that continues to plague the sector – and one close to our hearts here at JH – so to mark International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to try and spark our own discussion.
What’s going on?
Despite an industry-wide push, the number of women in the tech industry has barely moved in the last decade, sitting at around 16%. Even as other STEM specialisms, like engineering and science, have seen success increasing the ratio of men to women in their workforce, IT has remained stagnant, despite huge growth in our industry.
While we’re proud to buck the industry trend here at JH – with 40% of our team identifying as women – we don’t profess to have all the answers. But who better to ask for their thoughts than all the incredible women on the JH team? From Development to Design, Marketing to the Leadership team – they had some incredible insight to share.
So here’s why gender diversity is important in our industry, why so many businesses are still struggling with it, and what needs to be done about it – all told in the words of our brilliant JH women.
Why is it important to have more women in tech?
“Diversity in the workplace brings in more creativity and better results,” says Martina, Junior Product Manager. “Men and women think differently, so each brings unique points of view to the table – and I think this is very important for the success of the business! I believe diversity needs to be maintained and shouldn’t be just a one-time sort of campaign thing.”
“It’s honestly really scary to be the first (or only) woman to walk into a room of men,” says Alli, Content Marketing Executive. “I’ve met so many smart and creative women who have amazing ideas – but without an open, equal discussion space, or someone to advocate for them, they don’t feel comfortable speaking up – or even entering that space in the first place. It’s important to encourage women to pursue careers in industries where they’re under-represented, but it’s equally as important to have female leaders and mentors in those industries for them to look up to, and support them.”
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
“I think it’s due to the lack of female role models in the development world early on, which created a lot of misconceptions about developer jobs,” muses Sophie, Junior Developer, who joined JH in early 2022. “I think still today, most people tend to associate developers with the introverted nerdy guy who aced maths at school who’s living off snacks and soda (which hey, is quite the fitting description for me, except for the maths and penis part..!) I guess girls might have a hard time thinking of themselves that way, especially since nerdiness and introversion are usually labelled as “not cool” since school.
“Thankfully, this has been recognized as a problem to fix by many and there is a lot of support in place for women wanting to start a career in tech. For example, codebar is a charity that facilitates the growth of a diverse tech community, by running free regular programming workshops for minority groups in tech. They have a very active discord with workshops happening and plenty of courses and volunteer coaches.
“They also have hiring partners and sometimes run scholarship programs in partnership with coding bootcamps, which is actually how I got into Makers Academy in the first place, which helped me get my job here at JH.”
Rachael, Junior Project Manager, agrees. “Historically there has always been a gender stereotype with tech roles. There is this old, outdated mindset – typically from the older generation – where it is considered men are better at ‘x’ than women, and I think in some sectors this has just not been eradicated yet. Working a male-dominated company may feel intimidating to some women, and I have known friends to leave their roles because they are not being acknowledged.”
Rachael also thinks companies could be missing out – “Why a company wouldn’t want a woman’s perspective on their software is crazy – do they think women don’t use tech?!”
And Joyce, our Junior UX/UI Designer, shares their opinions. “I think the reason there are fewer women in tech than men is because when I was growing up, the idea of “women can work in tech” was not advertised enough, yet the stereotype of men working in tech grew constantly,” she says.
“Even as a UX/UI designer myself, people don’t consider me working in tech – but working as a designer which is generally known as a “woman’s job”. When we say “tech”, most people think of coding, engineering, all these classic “men’s jobs” – but without UX/UI designers, there wouldn’t be Apple, Google, or Microsoft.
“This might be controversial, but I honestly think we should be past the point where we need to shout about “we need more women in tech!” or “women in tech is normal!” says Joyce. “While it’s for a good cause, I feel like it’s the same as when people hear that a woman is in the military – and say “Oh good for her, she is very brave”. It should be normalised, not singled out. Whoever can do the job should get the job – it’s as simple as that.”
How can we improve gender diversity in tech?
“The crux of the problem is cultural and changes are needed in society so that we encourage girls to take STEM subjects at school, and to really enjoy those subjects from an early age,” says Sarah, JH’s Chair, who has built multiple businesses in the tech space. “Women and girls then need encouragement to take those subjects in further and higher education, and then when they get into the workforce we need to ensure they are mentored and given the right career opportunities. The industry is crying out for more talent but we are still ignoring half of the potential workforce! Until we can create those pathways for women to join the technology workforce we cannot solve the issue.”
“I’m a millennial and I remember whilst I was at school, there were very limited initiatives to get younger girls involved in courses surrounding programming and tech.” says Emma, Marketing Manager. “I believe there have been improvements with educational institutions in more recent years though, particularly within the UK, so I think we are yet to see the fruits of that. However, there are some fantastic initiatives that are supporting women of all ages to get into the world of tech and some of the more technical roles this industry offers, such as Code First Girls (CFG).”
Employers could also inspire women to work for them by offering them opportunities to pursue their dreams, as well as supporting their needs. “I choose to work in tech because I am passionate about building digital products that make people’s life easier, and help businesses grow,” explains Joyce. “For me, there is no such thing as a men’s job or woman’s job: anyone can be whatever they want to be. With me being a woman in tech, this is an opportunity to show people that we exist, and we deserve to be as common as men in tech.”
What can businesses and organisations do to make a difference to their female employees?
“There have been a lot of discussions about flexible and remote working being beneficial in the last couple of years – but these things offer amazing opportunities to support women in particular,” enthuses Alli. “Women often have additional responsibilities outside of work, whether that’s looking after children, caring for family members, volunteering – or even their health making sticking to the traditional 9-5 model tough for them. Giving them that flexibility could be the difference between a new mum getting back into a role she can flourish in, or her feeling isolated and alone. And for me, remote working empowers me to invest time back in myself – whether that’s giving me more time for exercise, or for other hobbies to support positive mental health.”
And Joyce thinks it’s always worth taking time to get the basics right. “Externally, employers need to be an advocate about how gender is not a concern in any role, whether it’s on social media or through the company,” she says. “ And Internally, employing workers with an open mind, especially in HR is crucial – to avoid any gender-based bias within the company and in the recruitment process.”
There’s plenty that can be done to support professional development in the workplace too, of course. ”I was very creative from an early age so I was pushed into a BA in Visual Communication, where I learned how to be a Designer – then worked for 5 years as a Web Designer alongside Developers,” recalls Sophie. “This exposure to Developers helped blow away most of my misconceptions about the role. I realised coding wasn’t all about maths (which I was utterly rubbish at), but mostly about logic and creativity (which I did have!) There’s always lots of ways to solve a problem using logic, but in order to solve it efficiently – developers have to be creative, which really appealed to me.”
When you get the balance right, Rachael thinks roles in tech can be incredibly fulfilling for women. “I personally enjoy working in a tech environment, because it is an industry that is constantly changing and adapting – and I am always learning,” she muses. “I am also fortunate enough to have a supportive team around me.”
And Clair, Financial Controller, loves working in tech too. “Not having a background in tech myself I can’t answer why there aren’t more women in tech – but I love working in the fast-paced environment where there are always new things on the horizon.
“From my experience, it really is an industry where everyone’s welcome, and if you find the right employer, the work is varied and interesting – with new challenges to think about every week!”
What resources are available to support more women into tech?
If you’d like some more ways to help, here are some organisations to explore who are working to support more women into the tech industry – through opportunities, training and other initiatives:
Is it time for you to take your next step in tech?
We’re always on the lookout for more amazing people to join our team here at JH! We are currently recruiting for the following role:
And we’re always excited to hear from exceptional people in the roles below who are looking for a new opportunity: