Blog: Women in Tech
On a flight back from Minsk the other day I had plenty of time to think about something I had recently realised at a Godel meeting – that 55% of our management team were female. I wondered how this compared to the rest of the IT industry, so when back safely on terra firma I did some digging and was surprised with what I found.
Is the UK lagging behind the rest of the world?
A 2014 survey by Computer Weekly and Mortimer Spinks revealed that only 12% of the IT workforce in the UK was female, down from 15% in the previous year. In the USA this figure was 24% – also down from the previous year. During my catch up with the team in Belarus last week, I approached Elena Polubochko, our CTO, to ask if Elena would consider doing a “Women in Tech” talk in Minsk for me, Elena’s response to this was –
“I would be happy to do it, however, what you need to be aware of is that there is a high percentage of women in tech in Belarus compared to the UK, so I am not sure if this is really needed as a motivation tool to get women into IT, in Belarus, they are already heavily involved.”
The chat with Elena got me thinking. I know from personal experience the value that our female colleagues bring to Godel and upon further investigation, this is backed up by research in FTSE companies, which shows that those companies with more women on the board perform better. So why are there so few in IT companies in the UK?
There seems to be a number of factors of influencing this. The first goes back to probably where most people these days get their initial exposure to IT – in school. How IT is taught and the way it is structured is obviously turning a lot of girls off the subject before they have a proper chance to understand the opportunities a career in IT offers. This despite the facts that girls consistently outperform boys in the subject!
This leads onto the still-held general perception that IT is for nerds and geeks and that it is not a ‘cool’ career choice. But this is patently wrong. If you take a look at any of the businesses that are viewed as exciting and upcoming, most of them are online and all of them have innovative technology at the core of what they do. So why does building this technology not seem an attractive career choice for girls?
The final factor is to a large extent self-sustaining: perception. No one wants to be the only female in a male-only macho environment, so a Catch-22 situation has arisen with women holding back in applying for IT roles until more women are working there.
At Godel we have found that our teams that get the best results are those that are made up of people with differing attitudes, backgrounds and ways of doing something. They are more able to combine these skills into one solution. So by excluding nearly half the available workforce the IT industry in the UK is really shooting itself in the foot and needs to look seriously at ways of addressing this problem quickly.
Without my female colleagues here at Godel, I don’t believe for one second we would have enjoyed such growth within the company or hold such great relationships with our clients if they were not involved. The guys also have a tiny bit of value to add of course! 😉
Neil Turvin, CEO, Godel