The Tech sector has long been recognised as male dominated, with a survey by agency Inclusive Boards identifying that only 12.6% of board members in the sector are women, compared to the 30% female representation now achieved by FTSE 100 businesses. The release of GCSE and A-Level results earlier this month have therefore shown some encouraging signs for the future in tackling this gender gap.
For the first time the number of female students taking sitting A-level exams in Stem (science, technology and maths) subjects overtook males.
The GCSE results also contained encouraging data, with an increase in the number of teenagers sitting GCSEs in STEM subjects. Maths entries increased by 4.2%, and computing by 7.2%, driven by a 14% increase in female entries. Although girls make up only 21.4% of those that sat computing, they outperformed their male classmates with 24.9% achieving a 7/A, compared to 20.8% of their male peers.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary for England, said: “I’m delighted to see more pupils choosing science-related subjects. This is encouraging particularly as we look to boost science in this country and the skills we’ll need in the future.”
Although these figures show a move in the right direction, uptake of STEM subjects and, as a result, employment in STEM based industries is still predominately male.
To tackle this, as part of its commitment to boosting gender diversity, the government recently announced it will be investing £18.5 million in the Tech Sector to help drive up skills and encourage retraining and career development – particularly in the areas of AI and data science.
It will also be investing £13.5 million over the next three years to provide an additional 2,500 AI and data science conversion degree places, with 1000 scholarships available for people from underrepresented groups such as women, people from minority ethnic or lower social-economic backgrounds. It is hoped this will provide those with degrees in other disciplines the opportunity to retrain and become experts in data science and AI.
In addition, a £5 million government Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund will be created to drive innovation in adult online learning by providing funding and expertise to incentivise tech firms to develop cutting-edge tools to deliver bespoke and engaging online training opportunities to support more people into skilled employment.
Creating a more diverse future workforce will help with the design of new technology, including the fair and accurate development of algorithms, and tackle some of the greatest social challenges of our time - from protecting our environment, to transforming the way we live and work, and saving lives through diagnosing diseases earlier.
These investments will help to boost diversity in the Tech Sector by giving more people the opportunity to start (or retrain to) a career in tech.
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