UK needs more women in tech to compete on global scale, says Education Minister

By Danny Palmer
31 Jul 2014 View Comments

The UK will only realise its full potential as a global technology hub if more women are encouraged to find careers within the sector, Education Minister Nick Gibb has said.

A recent report by BCS and e-skills UK revealed that only 16 per cent of the UK's technology workforce is female, while in education under 10 per cent of those taking Computing at A-Level are women.

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Gibb, the Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, made the comments at a summit where representatives from a variety of technology employers gathered to discuss what can be done to address the gender imbalance within technology companies.

"If the UK is to compete on a global scale we want more young people leaving school with the ability to make technology work for them. One simple way to do that is to use all of the talent at our disposal and encourage more girls to study these subjects," said Gibb.

The MP argued the government's Your Life campaign - designed to encourage greater participation in science, technology, engineering and maths - will help increase the number of women working in technology.

"The Your Life campaign will inspire young people by showing them the huge range of opportunities that technology creates. At the same time our new computing curriculum will give them the skills to make that technology work for them," he said.

"That's why it's vital that government, businesses, the technology sector and schools continue working together and sharing their expertise to achieve this goal."

Technology employers including Capgemini, Cisco, Fujitsu, IBM and 02 all attended the event, which was supported by e-skills UK.

"No sector can afford to do without the talents of half the population. Women have so much to offer in technology, and in return the sector can provide them with a range of worthwhile career opportunities," said Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK.

"The summit is an important opportunity for employers and government to discuss collective action that will enable more women to engage with technology at school, higher education and in the workplace," she added.

Ann Brown, senior vice president of human resources at Capgemini, also expressed concern about the lack of women within the technology sector.

"It's saddening to see the dearth of women in technology, when there are so many opportunities to build a successful and rewarding career. Now is the time to focus on positive collaborative action that will make a real difference to future generations of female technologists," she said.

Computing recently asked, what should women in IT really be fighting for?

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