Lancashire Tech Talks

Diversity and women in tech talk

Godel sponsored and attended the Blackburn-based Tech Talks hosted by Graham & Brown who is based in the Lancashire town. The panel discussion was based around the perennial issue of diversity in the workplace – specifically women in technology roles.

Where technology is concerned the biggest gap in diversity is representation by women and the all-women-panel of Stephanie Nash, Ecommerce Executive, Graham & Brown, Maya Dibley, Account Manager at Lancashire County Council and Anne Marie, Operations Director from Gear4music addressed the reasons they believe it is the case, and some of the challenges the sector faces.

Thoughts surrounding the reason for the gender shortfall included the general recruitment process. Most believe that women apply for jobs if they fit 90% of the job specification, whilst the job specification itself can be off putting too – they may use terminology that women might not identify with which can also reduce the interest seen from female applicants. Essentially, for a number of reasons there are more men applying for the roles in the first place. It’s important that companies recognise what women want and what motivates them to apply for the roles in the first place, not only what motivates them once they’re doing the job.

The realities are that if the UK is to fill its skills gap then women must be part of the solution and encouraging them with positive actions and language is fundamental to the process. Women are often labelled bossy where their male counterparts have ‘strong leadership skills’ – and this begins young in schools. There is a need to change the current teaching approach introducing STEM skills sooner to create natural curiosity and ultimately to help reduce the 173,000 people skills gap. For things to change, the private sector must step up and help promote STEM subjects, supplementing the public sector which is often bound by red tape.

The overall message was be brave and stop hiring on culture fit – don’t be afraid of diversity and different opinions as conflict helps innovation. Companies that embrace diversity can broaden their skill base and become more competitive and innovative.

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