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The UK underinvests in addressing the issues that drive women’s underrepresentation in technology-related jobs, according to a Workingmums.co.uk roundtable event with employers.
The roundtable, held on 13th September and hosted by Salesforce, brought together diversity and recruitment experts from 14 organisations to debate issues relating to women in technology. The aim of the roundtable was to share best practice and promote innovation in a challenging area. Given the importance of technology for the future of work, the under-representation of women is a topic of widespread economic concern.
The event was chaired by Dr Liza Howe-Walsh from the University of Portsmouth. She has conducted research in the UK and Middle East on women in technology and how they choose their careers.
Employers recognised that getting more women into technology was a complex, societal issue and those with international offices highlighted how the UK put comparatively little investment into addressing the issues that lead to a lack of women in the industry, from careers advice, teacher bias and the quality of computer science education in schools to recruitment and leadership development.
Participants remarked that political pressure over the gender pay audits had led to some CEOs setting unrealistically high targets for the recruitment of women, given the long-term social issues that need to be addressed, and that failure to achieve such targets could end up being demotivating.
The white paper covers the discussion and also ends with some recommendations on ways forward. They include setting aspirations and ambitions, not targets, reaching out to parents and primary and secondary schools, reducing job specifications as women are more likely to rule themselves out if they don’t meet all the essential and desired criteria and hiring on potential and training people up.