Some of the UK’s biggest brands, including Tesco, JP Morgan, NatWest Markets, and Zoopla are backing a new initiative set up by PwC which is designed to tackle the dearth of women working in the UK’s tech and data sector by collaborating with schools in an effort to attract youngsters into the industry.
The launch of the Tech She Can Charter follows the publication of PwC research which found that the gender gap in technology starts at school and carries on throughout every stage of women’s lives.
According to the survey of over 2,000 A-level and university students, only 27% of female students say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of male students. Only 3% of the females say that it is their first choice.
It also found that only 22% of those questioned were able to name a famous female working in technology, compared to two thirds who were able to name a famous man. And over a quarter of female students said that they had been put off a career in technology because the sector is too male dominated.
PwC Women in Tech leader Sheridan Ash (pictured), who is leading the scheme, said: “Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late – to boost the number of females in technology we need to take coordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school.
“We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world.”
The charter, which has been backed by the Government and nearly 20 other organisations, warns that without coordinated action from school age to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse tech talent “the UK could lose its competitive edge on the world stage”.
The companies have pledged to a six-point programme, including collaborating more closely with schools, supporting social mobility, creating role models, ensuring inclusive access, supporting the right environment to offer formal work experience programmes or internships, and sharing best practice.
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “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.”
The Tech She Can Charter follows the launch of the inaugural “20 in Data & Technology”, detailing exceptional stories of female achievement in data science across the UK. The programme is the result of a partnership between The Female Lead and Women in Data UK (WiD UK).
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