Posted on January 6, 2017 by staff

Times have changed but there still aren’t enough tech women


Having been in the technology industry for more than 17 years as one of the founders of UKFast, I’ve seen the landscape constantly shifting and rhetoric change.

I’ve had four daughters in that time and married my husband, but one topic has stayed the same: women in tech

The conversation hasn’t changed much really in all of those years. To put it simply, there are still not enough women working in technology.

For me, I think part of that is the stereotype that people in tech are male, hoody-wearing ‘geeks’. In reality, that’s not the case.

The tech industries are filled with a plethora of people – from all walks of life and all genders.

Thankfully, over the past few years, we’ve seen a push to encourage more girls into technology. A marked shift from when I was at school and we were taught cookery and needlework!

Now it’s cool for girls to code and we’re seeing it every school holiday at our Code Clubs.

‘Part of the problem is the stereotype that people in tech are male, hoody-wearing geeks’ We’ve seen more girls than ever joining the classes, and they now outnumber the boys. It’s all fantastic progress, but it leaves a gap in the middle, between the young children passionate about coding and the working-aged women who are ready to smash glass ceilings and make a real impact.

However, I do have to wonder if there is a danger of going too far. Too many female-only events could deter women from attending other events.

Building a behaviour of only networking with one group of people – men or women – takes away a whole swathe of the population which is why I’m personally not a fan of events that exclude anybody.

It’s also hard to change perceptions if we women are at our own events rather than making a splash at existing industry forums. We need balance – both have a purpose but you shouldn’t just focus on one area.

So how do we encourage older females to join the industry to plug that gap, to join the boardroom and management layers of tech firms? I think as an industry, we already are, whether we realise or not. The industry has shifted. The agile, skyrocketing start-ups are attractive workplaces and have more diverse teams than ever. They are setting the example. Old boys’ clubs don’t fit the industry’s culture; there’s no room for it. Every industry or business needs balance.

We need all types of people in the boardroom for example. At UKFast, the board is 50/50 and whilst we do still struggle to recruit female tech engineers, we do make up for that in other areas. The highest paid member of our team is a woman, and it’s not me!

Whilst I’m not often one to take centre stage, I am incredibly proud of the business we’ve grown and the example both Lawrence and I set for our daughters.

We teach them that the sky’s the limit. They have no concept of there being any limit to their achievements in life simply because they’re girls and that’s exactly how it should be.