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O2, BBC, IBM and Education Minister call for more women in tech

Education Minister Nick Gibb has claimed the UK needs more women in the technology sector to allow it to compete with the rest of the world.

Gibb made the comments at an e-skills UK-hosted roundtable to discuss the “urgent” need to tackle the gender imbalance in technology education and careers.

e-skills UK is a not-for-profit working on behalf of employers to help ensure the UK is equipped to thrive in the digital world.

“If the UK is to compete on a global scale we want more young people leaving school with the ability to make technology work for them,” the Minister claimed.

“One simple way to do that is to use all of the talent at our disposal and encourage more girls to study these subjects,” he added.

The e-skills UK summit supports the government’s Your Life campaign, which outlines national ambitions for greater national participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) – especially from the female population.

“The Your Life campaign will inspire young people by showing them the huge range of opportunities that technology creates.

“At the same time, our new computing curriculum will give them the skills to make that technology work for them,” claimed Gibb.

The Minister also claimed that government, businesses, the tech sector and schools must collaborate to share expertise and achieve the goal of encouraging women into the industry.

The event was also attended by some prominent tech employers, including Accenture, Atos, BT, BBC, Capgemini, Cisco, Fujitsu, IBM, Royal Mail and O2.

The suppliers were invited to share their expertise and commit to government plans to encourage women into further education and careers related to technology.

“It’s saddening to see the dearth of women in technology, when there are so many opportunities to build a successful and rewarding career,” claimed Ann Brown, senior vice president of human resources at Capgemini.

Read more: Women in tech: Why should you care?

“Now is the time to focus on positive collaborative action that will enable more women to engage with technology at school, higher education and in the workplace,” she added.

The summit follows research that claims an extremely low percentage of people working in the technology sector are female.

According to BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, the UK falls behind other European countries with just 16 per cent of the tech workforce being female.

In comparison, the figure is 25 per cent in Greece, 23 per cent in Spain and 23 per cent in Finland – but its research also revealed that women are on average paid less than men.

The gender balance is also evident in education – 91 per cent of those taking computing A-Levels are male and this gap has widened by 8 per cent since 2003.