The Institute of Coding (IoC) – a government-backed initiative designed to respond to the UK’s growing digital skills gap – recently played host to its second annual conference at the IET Savoy Place in London.
As part of this two-day event, new research from the IoC and Deloitte was unveiled, offering fresh insights into the factors that drive women to study and work within the digital sector. The study was conducted in 2019 and surveyed a total of 1,410 people.
In the IoC’s research, more than half (54%) of female professionals working in non-digital roles cited either not knowing how to retrain, or not believing they had studied the necessary subjects, as the main reasons for not pursuing a digital career.
On top of this, 49% of female university students believe they aren’t studying the right subject to work in digital, while 59% of 16–18-year-old women believe they must possess a GCSE in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to work in digital.
The IoC notes that these statistics highlight a need for the improved showcasing of digital education and careers – including accessible information about the qualifications required to succeed in the industry, so people – especially women – are more aware of the educational options and available career paths.
Called Diversifying Digital, the study outlined three ways to encourage women into digital:
– Smarter signposting so women can make informed choices about the digital educational and professional opportunities that are open to them.
– A digital rebrand to eliminate incorrect preconceptions surrounding the digital industry and promote it as diverse, accessible and open to all, complete with a range of creative, collaborative and innovative opportunities.
– Flexible learning that responds to the disparate ways women of all ages like to learn, supporting a more tailored, personalised experience.
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The research also delved into specific motivations that could help employers recruit a more diverse group of employees. Almost two-thirds (63%) of female university students said they would consider a digital profession of there was a chance to use digital to positively impact the world and contribute to future technology, for example.
On top of this, 60% of young women said they could consider a digital career if there was the prospect of a good wage and clear progression. The study highlights the need for tailored marketing and recruitment models to attract women at various stages of life towards the digital sector.
“Improving the diversity of those studying and working in digital is critical, as technology is transforming all aspects of our lives,” said Shilpa Shah, alternative delivery model and Deloitte women in technology leader.
“A diverse workforce will ensure technology develops and benefits every section of society.
“Digital businesses need to demonstrate that they can offer attractive career options for women. Without these efforts, digital businesses and the economy as a whole will miss out on a hugely valuable pool of potential talent.
“There are always routes into digital. Our research shows that we need better signposting at every life stage and that by showcasing the diversity and breadth of digital jobs, we should be able to attract and retain more women in digital education and careers.”