The UK has a thriving tech sector, ending last year as Europe’s leading ecosystem and the main challenger to the US and China. But is it still a boys’ club? According to the World Bank, women make up less than a third of the world’s technology-related workforce.
To mark International Women’s Day 2023, Bronte Rhodes, Senior Recruitment Consultant here at Cathcart, is sharing her experience of hiring women in tech over the past four years, and why she thinks remote working may be the key to closing the gender gap…
Providing a work-life balance
The motherhood penalty – in other words, the issue of women welcoming a new baby and closing the door on their career – is an industry-wide problem. It’s also one of the biggest drivers of the gender pay gap, as women lose out on valuable work experience while their focus shifts to raising a family. But with the growing popularity of remote and flexible working options, tech bosses have the power to change this. Even something as simple as letting staff take time away from their desks for the school run can be life-changing for those trying to balance motherhood with full-time work.
Levelling the playing field
Similarly, struggling to find the equilibrium between the 40-hour week and parenting means some women miss out on training and development opportunities, and are overlooked for promotions as a result. To ensure gender parity in the workplace, make sure your focus on diversity extends past your hiring approach, to the opportunities you make available to your staff. For instance, a four-day training course may not be the most practical option for a working parent. Instead, why not consider remote sessions or more flexible routes for successful completion? This prevents women from getting left behind.
As well as benefiting the parents in your team, remote working will likely encourage a much wider demographic to apply for roles – and stay. With many professionals juggling rising inflation and soaring house prices with saving, more and more people are opting for rural, affordable locations as opposed to inner-city living. To create a balance for staff members that do wish to travel to the office, you can offer a hybrid working environment – giving women living away from the city centre a better chance of climbing the tech ladder.
What you can do better
Since joining Cathcart Technology as a trainee recruiter in 2019, I’ve certainly seen a positive change in the number of businesses hiring women for their tech roles – but we still have a long way to go.
To make a career in tech more appealing to women, I think we need to address this issue much earlier. For example, back when I was in school, it was definitely difficult for me to picture myself working in such a male-dominated industry, which is why I didn’t opt for subjects like computer science at Standard Grade or Higher. Without these subjects, you’re hardly going to go down that route at university. Fortunately, there are a number of initiatives built to engage girls and women in the tech industry – Code First Girls is a brilliant example.
For businesses looking to hire more women in tech roles, my biggest advice would be to define what flexible working means to the individual at an early stage. True flexibility isn’t about being able to log on 15 minutes later. It’s allowing an employee to design a schedule that works for them, provided they do the job they’ve been hired for within that time. This is an understanding that I think is particularly important for women.
Let’s close the tech gender gap together
If you’re looking for advice or guidance on how to make your job postings more inclusive, or how to diversify your hiring process in general, reach out to our experienced team.