New research has revealed that 48% of women in the UK tech sector feel their company is not prioritising gender diversity, with nearly 3 in 5 of those who have taken a career break feeling less valued for their work contributions
According to research from Booking.com, one of the world’s largest travel commerce companies and a digital technology leader, less than half of women currently working in tech in the UK feel that the tech industry today is prioritising gender diversity as part of its agenda.
Slightly more British women currently in the field feel that their company is prioritising diversity efforts. While initiatives to close the gender gap and encourage more women into tech are having some success, tech companies and the industry need to demonstrate greater commitment to nurturing female talent – not only those considering or starting a tech career, but also established experts in the field – if they are to maintain a representative and skilled workforce.
For technology companies to attract much-needed talent, we’re seeing a shift in focus. In addition to retaining talent, businesses are bolstering their efforts to re-attract women who have left the sector and are looking to return. By retaining their knowledge and experience, tech companies stand to benefit not only culturally, but reputationally and financially too.
Women see opportunities to drive real business benefits and fuel positive, industry-wide change
The latest World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report found that there is a widening inequality gap worldwide. Yet, women are making strong contributions across all aspects of business. When asked about the benefits that increased gender diversity can bring to the tech industry, 89% of British women in tech – and those students interested in pursuing a tech career – said they would help diversify the sector, bringing fresh perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. They also cited greater flexibility in HR benefits and an improved work environment that would benefit all employees. Beyond these cultural benefits, women increasingly feel their representation in the UK tech workforce will contribute to improved company and brand reputation, as well as trust in tech companies in general.
Industry data also shows a wider economic benefit. PricewaterhouseCoopers research recently found that increasing the number of working women by 5%, to 75%, could boost the UK economy by approximately 9% of gross domestic product (GDP).
“Driving greater gender diversity in tech is as much about unearthing untapped talent as it is about supporting women who have already built the skills, knowledge and expertise in our sector. Diversifying talent – with all aspects of experience, backgrounds and career paths – needs to be front of mind,” says Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “Over the last ten years there have been significant changes to drive positive progress towards making the tech industry a more gender diverse place to work. We need to make sure that we continue this momentum. Companies that prioritise inclusivity at every level and tap effectively into the existing talent pool as well as encouraging new talent will continue to grow and thrive.”
Tapping into the value that women returning to tech can bring
Currently, six in ten female re-entrants to tech in the UK – or those who have taken a break and returned to the industry – view taking a career break as detrimental to their individual progression. Almost two-thirds believe the industry needs to actively do more to support their re-entry to the field.
However, a rise in ‘returnships’, or re-entry schemes is raising hopes, not just in technology but also at law firms, professional services and other sectors. 64% of British women returning to tech believe that such programmes – often focused on training, re-skilling, upskilling and mentorships – are key to overcoming re-entry challenges.
They want to feel empowered and build from their previous experience rather than feel like they are starting from the beginning. While two in five of those who have returned to the field consider regular upskilling opportunities to be essential to their success in tech, they are far more likely to agree that ‘returnships’ provide them with the confidence to overcome re-entry issues.
Encouragingly, these programmes are empowering women with the skills and support they need to progress. In fact, 60% of re-entrants in the UK say they had access to a mentor upon their return to work – something women in tech identified as essential to their career success. 66% also say their company helped them update their technical or other skills following a return.