The technology industry is not only crying out for more talent, but a more diverse range of skills that men alone cannot fill. Women currently make up 17 per cent of the technology workforce, despite representing 46 per cent of the total workforce in the UK. These are figures that have to improve – a report from Nominet suggests that increasing the number of women in the workforce could generate an extra £2.6 billion for the UK economy.
The importance of encouraging more women into the industry is clear, but we may have overlooked the importance of one factor in achieving this: the confidence gap. Research has shown that men and women see their own potential and performance differently. An often quoted statistic is that faced with the same job advert, men will apply if they meet approximately 60 per cent of the requirements, while women will only apply if they meet 100 per cent. One study found that this lower confidence means that they may not want to pursue future opportunities, affecting women’s future progression.
This mindset partly stems from that fact that from a young age, girls have been taught that to be confident and self-assured was somehow ‘unladylike’, and to be ‘self-deprecating’ is a positive. But, the problem is also because women don’t recognise themselves in the experience of others, and have few reference points.
Key to tackling this is through getting more women in technology to speak up and act as role models for girls at a young age. If they can relate to them and encourage them to aim high, they can act as a significant source of inspiration that can have a lasting impact much later in life. That one person – a teacher or family friend – could make a huge difference to a young person’s life.
We at CompTIA run a programme called Dream IT, which works with technology professionals to give presentations and talks to young girls to encourage them into tech. So far, we’ve reached over 12,000 girls, and now we’re adding another exciting element.
We’ve launched a brand new campaign called The Power of One, which is centred around role models and the impact that one person can have on another’s life. Our campaign encourages women to be that role model for one girl that they know. If every woman in tech looked within their own circles and showed them how exciting and fulfilling a career in tech could be, and showed them how they have the skills to do it, we could go a huge distance to addressing our industry’s long standing gender imbalance.
CompTIA is challenging both men and women to spread the word about the opportunities a technology career offers. Get started by talking to just one person today or visit our Dream IT UK Facebook page to see how you can get more involved.