Lots of firms talk about recruiting more women to work in technology.
Lots of firms take action too.
But what's really great is when businesses get together – with school and with government – to drive societal change together.
That's what's so impressive about The Tech She Can Charter. It's a cross industry initiative designed to help girls understand their potential in technology, based on some worrying statistics from a PwC study:
- Only 27% of females would consider a career in tech, versus 62% of males
- A shockingly low 3% of women say that a career in tech would be their first choice
- 16% of women have had tech suggested to them as a career, compared with 33% of males
It was inspiring to hear from Robyn Stephenson and Sheridan Ash at the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout conference, where they challenged other businesses to join the 53 organisations (and counting) who have already signed up to the charter. This 'open source' participation allows for the free sharing of ideas for the greater good, without allowing the barrier of loyalty to one brand.
'No one person can solve it on their own,' says Ash of the partnership.
They are working with an all-Parliamentary group, lobbying and helping to shape policy. The various players who need to grow female tech talent have some great initiatives among them – but they can be a lot more influential when they combine the best ideas from everyone, and take their message to the highest level.
One of their commitments is to reach girls at school age – otherwise it's too late. The charter is focused on creating one education pack for schools, working with the education minister. With that backing and collaboration, rather than confusing schools with multiple approaches, we can give them something consistent, of value, that represents an amalgamation of the best thinking out there.
"The way tech is taught in schools isn't appealing to girls," Ash points out. "They want to change the world. We have to show them how technology can do that."
“We want to be at the forefront of tackling the gender imbalance in the tech workforce and make sure the fantastic opportunities on offer are available to everyone," said Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries. “The whole UK government has recently signed the Tech Talent Charter, which focuses on increasing the gender diversity of those already working in tech roles, and we welcome PwC's new initiative to target and inspire the talent of tomorrow." The initiative was launched on the back of research that revealed only 23 percent of people working in STEM jobs are female. At present, 27 percent of women say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62 percent of men.