The digital skill gap between men and women remains as wide as the Mersey, but a new study suggests the education system must do more to support and encourage women into more technical roles to address the issue.
The study into the career paths of over 2,000 women working in digital across the North, by digital recruitment agency The Candidate, found that the most popular jobs for women in this sector are in marketing and social media (27%), account handling roles (26%), and public relations and communications (18%) – all typically ‘soft skill’ roles.
However, the current state of the digital industry means it is crucial to its continued success and growth for the more technical roles to be filled.
There are 1.46 million people – 7.5% of the UK’s workforce – currently employed in the digital sector, and with revenue expected to increase by 90% in 2016, it is more important than ever to have a steady flow of talent to fill digital jobs, the study claims.
Just one role that required hard skills – web developer – proved popular with the women involved in the research, with 9% currently filling these positions.
Brian Matthews, managing partner at The Candidate, said: “It was disappointing to see from our research that there is a real imbalance in the amount of women in soft and hard skill jobs.
“It may be that because hard skill roles, like user experience positions for example, are typically dominated by men, women are being put off. But there needs to be an equal measure of both soft and hard skills to truly help this sector thrive, and the education system has a big responsibility in providing not just training, but support to those wanting a career in the more technical side of this industry.
“On the whole, we need to work together to close the digital skills gap, and this involves digital professionals and the education system making a joint effort. Initiatives such as women only coding clubs are cropping up in the North at the moment, and a lot of women are really championing digital, but it’s the job of the education system, as well as leaders in the industry, to work together to encourage talent to take up the hard skill roles that the sector is really struggling to fill. Soft skill roles are crucial to the industry’s success, but there needs to be an even mix of both to help it grow.
“The fact that nearly 10% of those we spoke to are in web developer roles is positive, however, and we hope that this is a sign of what’s to come.”
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