Booking.com has revealed the first set of research findings from a global study aimed at better understanding the gender diversity challenge in the technology sector, looking at the perceptions, experiences and ambitions of women worldwide.
Conducted among female students studying the sector and women already working there, the research reveals that women in the UK hold a positive view of the potential it offers. However, the current workforce composition – including a lack of female decision-makers or visible role models – are cited as career hurdles.
In the survey, nearly three in five British respondents (57%) say that being female positively impacts their ability to pursue a career in tech. This favourable outlook is attributed to the recognised shortage of women currently in the industry (35%), an opportunity especially acknowledged by female undergraduates (50%) and high school students (41%).
Women in the UK are drawn to the tech industry for a myriad of reasons – they find it to be innovative (48%), creative (44%), and inspiring (26%), while also offering work that challenges them (37%). For many, securing a position in tech equates with landing their ideal career. When asked what criteria women in the UK would use to define their dream job, more than four in five cited doing work that inspires them (82% ), followed by work that aligns with their natural skillset (80%) and a job that allows them to carve their own path (74%).
Nearly one in three women in the UK (29%) feels a lack of female decision-makers holds back tech career potential, particularly among female high school students (36%). More than three quarters (77%) of the women surveyed in the UK feel they face more challenges than men to enter and succeed in certain careers.
“Women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech sector,” said Gillian Tans, CEO at Booking.com. “What our research tells us is exactly where women experience the biggest barriers and where the opportunity to initiate change is.
“The optimism and ambition that we see from women globally to be successful in a technology or IT field is inspiring, particularly among the younger generation, who see the potential for a career in tech to deliver against the high aspirations they hold for themselves.”
“But to empower women to truly succeed in tech, we as an industry have an opportunity to do more. This includes putting forth more female role models, eliminating gender bias that starts right from the recruitment process before a woman is even hired, and investing in initiatives that spotlight the industry as attractive and welcoming at all stages, from new entrants up to the most senior leadership.”
Appeal to young women
The research reaffirms the desirability of the tech sector to the next generation of talent, and highlights where efforts to close the gender gap can begin. 45% of UK female high school students and 42% of college undergraduates feel most strongly that a career in tech gives them the freedom to be creative in their role (vs. 31% UK average).
The high school students are especially drawn to tech because it offers them the chance to be successful from a young age (27% vs. 16% of experienced tech professionals), as well as the ability to carve their own career path (28% vs. 19% of experienced tech professionals).
“The technology industry has tremendous potential to fulfil the criteria cited by women globally when defining their dream job and career aspirations,” said Tans. “Helping to unlock this and channel more women into tech is a directive that crosses education, societal development, corporate responsibility and government initiatives. If the tech industry is to retain a balanced future pipeline of talent, we must all work tirelessly to engage women throughout their years of education, to act as positive sources of influence in shaping girls’ perceptions of STEM.”