Increasing the number of women working in IT would boost the UK’s economy by £2.6 billion every year as over half of all IT decision makers agree that their company would benefit from a more equal representation when it comes to gender.
A report put together by the Centre for Economic and Business Research [CEBR] on International Girls in IT Day showed that women make up less than a fifth of the UK IT workforce and current trends show the gap will slowly widen over the coming years.
This is despite the fact 59 per cent of IT decision makers in the UK thought that their IT department would benefit from a more gender-balanced team with just seven per cent disagreeing.
“The digital economy is driving economic growth in the UK. Given the extent of the IT skills shortage, we can’t afford to only recruit from half the talent pool. It’s alarming to think that, if current trends continue, the IT gender gap will get bigger rather than smaller,” stated Gill Crowther, director of HR at Nominet, an Internet company that has clutch of female executives on the board of directors.
Education is where the push needs to start and figures show that £103 million would be added to the UK economy every 12 months if the number of women studying for IT degrees was the same as men, and the percentage of female IT students going into IT careers increased at the same level as male counterparts.
Girls currently only account for 19 per cent of the students taking computer science degrees and just nine per cent of female students studying for IT degrees go on to a career in the industry.
“We need to attract more women into the technology industry at every level and this starts with encouraging girls at school and university to study IT subjects. The new curriculum coming into force in September offers a fantastic opportunity for girls to become engaged with more technical subjects as the study of computing – and coding – becomes compulsory for all schoolchildren,” Crowther added.
The latest numbers follow a similar report released in October 2013 that showed employing more women in the IT sector would add €9 billion [£7.6 billion] to the continent’s economy. It also comes just days after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg empowered women to go out and grab the top jobs in order to make a difference at the highest level.