Posted on January 17, 2017 by staff

Tech Doctor: Schoolgirls are embracing tech at Code Clubs


If you were asked to name people working in tech, the likelihood is you’d reel off a list of men – Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

One of the big female names like Sheryl Sandberg might slip in there, but the majority of us would name tech leaders that are American. Where are the British leaders in tech?

After BusinessCloud’s look into women in tech and the gaps throughout the industry, I can’t help but wonder why these gaps exist. It doesn’t make sense to me.

If we look at successful organisations, including UKFast, they have more men than women – and the majority of men are in technical roles and women in management or communication roles.

Personally, I think that’s because British education has historically turned out pigeonholed people and pushed girls and boys in different directions.

However, I believe that this is changing now. The work we’re doing with schools is showing us every day that it is.

The most enthusiastic schools to adopt our Code Clubs and tech workshops are in fact girls’ schools like Alderley Edge and Manchester High School for Girls.

We work with more than 57,000 pupils across more than 40 schools in Greater Manchester and, from our experience, there is no difference between boys and girls – they are all enjoying learning to code and finding out how the internet works.

When we improve and rebalance education, that’s when we’ll see not only a huge boost in the numbers of women in tech but a spike in global tech businesses that can compete with the likes of the big Silicon Valley giants.

Until we teach technology, until it is ingrained and instinctive, we will always be behind the curve.

But that’s not because we don’t have the talent. A lot of the greatest technology has been masterminded in Britain but we don’t have the sheer volume of people needed to fill every place in every business.

Right now, to put it into perspective, I would hire 100 tech people in certain areas if I could find them.

That’s why we went into education a few years ago, because we knew that the government couldn’t fix it. What’s lovely is now we see it working. We have young kids who came in on work experience at the age of 14 and now they’re running departments here at the age of 24 or 25.

The future, for me, is that business owners take this philanthropic approach and get involved with more schools. It’s positive that more businesses have caught up and we’ve got pioneers like Lord Nash who are getting businesses involved with schools so that teachers can concentrate on teaching. This way everyone is focused on the areas that they are skilled in.

I like to think that UKFast is a progressive organisation where the board is split 50/50, but really, that’s not progressive, it’s healthy.

It’s balanced and a business needs just that if it’s going to be able to manage growth or survive the tough times.