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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

UK businesses risking a ‘critical shortfall’ in female tech talent

British companies are facing an undersupply of female technology workers as too many young women are being put off following it as a career path at school, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Getting more females into technology is a business opportunity ©Shutterstock
Getting more females into technology is a business opportunity ©Shutterstock

Women in tech: Time to close the gender gap shows that only 27% of female A level and university students would consider a career in technology, in comparison to 62% of males.

With growing evidence suggesting that a diverse workforce can lead to increased productivity and innovation, there are concerns that a lack of female workers could be a missed business opportunity.

PwC head of technology and investments, Jon Andrews, said: “Women remain woefully underrepresented in the UK’s technology workforce.

“Getting more females into technology doesn’t just make smart business sense, it means that organisations can develop and deliver emerging technology solutions based on a broader range of perspectives that are fit for their entire customer base.

“We need to start creating the building blocks for the future of the UK’s technology industry at a much younger age. Greater diversity of thinking will fuel the innovation of the future.”

The report highlights that if half of the UK’s population is being overlooked as a source of technology talent, then the country is effectively trying to compete internationally ‘with one hand tied behind its back’.

However it shows that there are not enough women being educated about the emerging influence of technology, and too few female role models in the sector for them to aspire to.

Only 22% of students studied for the PwC research could name a famous woman working in technology, while 66% could think of a well-known man in such a job, with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs the most cited individuals.

PwC head of women in technology, Sheridan Ash, said: “It’s hard for girls to aspire to what they can’t see - we need to shout louder about the great women already working in technology and work harder to promote more women to senior and visible positions.

“Highlighting the role technology plays in solving the world’s important problems could be the differentiator that sparks wider female interest in the sector.

“Technology careers have evolved considerably over the past decade and we need to make sure that women play a greater role in shaping what they look like in the next decade.”

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