The UK Government’s drive to increase the number of young people, and women in particular, choosing to study STEM subjects at school and university, to enable the UK to become one of the most technologically innovative countries in the world, has been going for some time. But we still need more women to consider tech and software development as a career path.
It’s not just the responsibility of women to give voice to the cause and encourage more young women to seek a rewarding career in our industry - men also need to stand up and create space for women to feel welcome.
At a recent Women in Marketing event run by the Financial Services Forum, a member of the board suggested the audience read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. Sandberg, as the COO of Facebook, is an inspirational woman in the tech industry. She has used her position to evoke change through the publication of her bestselling book and through the Lean In website. While reading her book however, I felt slightly let down by her suggestions on how to get by in a “man’s world”. I don’t agree that ‘getting by’ and ‘fitting in’ is an option anymore and I, like many other women, want to see the system change and evolve.
Over the last few years there has been a significant increase in female-led mentor schemes to help women gain the confidence to take their seat at the digital table. All of this is a positive move forward, but why should it just be down to women? Where are the men?
Networks of women supporting women is, forgive the millennial term, ‘on trend’ - especially in The City, where organisations such as MeetUp have self-organised groups for women to join almost daily. Women’s networking groups increase confidence, and undeniably they provide a platform to share ideas in a safe place without the fear of speaking out. But by making these meetings gender-biased, the conversation will inevitably miss out on the mixed bag of perspectives that having different voices – from both genders - offers.
Codehouse is fully committed to fairness and equality. Everyone has a voice. And this is a message that has become an ingrained part of our culture. Codehouse registers 13.9% above the 6.8% global average (Stacks Report 2017) for having women in tech and development roles.
Matt O’Neill, operations director at Codehouse, says that this culture is due to the un-biased nature of the hiring process. “All of our colleagues are here because of their talents, work ethic, and abilities.” The statistics certainly back up his statement. 21% of the Codehouse workforce is female, out of which 37.5% hold senior software development positions.
All agencies must be conscious of the fact that most girls going through school still don’t think that a role in the tech or digital industry is open to them. Despite the increase in women signing up for development courses at university level, there is still an enormous lack of female representation within digital agencies.
This fact, and the need for change, is not just for women to get behind. There is a collective responsibility for us all to highlight that a girl in Year 9 can follow a career in software development, if that’s something that interests her, and that she will be welcomed with an opportunity of a promising career in digital.
Initiatives such as BIMA’s D-day, where agencies partner with local schools to educate and encourage young people to consider a career in digital are fantastic - we all need to join forces to do more. To be more aware of the situation, and accept that we all have a part to play in encouraging women up into roles that have been unobtainable or unattractive for far too long.
Isn’t it ridiculous that we are still having to talk about this in 2018? It’s time to make a change. Finding out how many women you currently have in technical roles, would be a good place to start.
By Briony Beech, marketing executive, Codehouse