Tech skills charity warns not enough being done to direct young girls towards digital careers
A tech skills charity has warned that not enough is being done to direct young girls towards a career in digital.
Digital Xtra Fund – supported by business and government – says more needs to be done to tackle a ‘gender imbalance’ which starts early and accounts for just 23% of the tech workforce being women.
Digital Xtra Fund, a charity set-up to encourage more young people to take part in extracurricular digital activities and inspire them to consider a career in tech, is warning businesses that this gender imbalance starts from a very young age and the best way to tackle it is through inspiring more girls and young women early on.
In Scotland today, young women make up only 20% of pupils studying National 5 Computing Science in secondary schools. Kraig Brown, Partnership & Development Manager at Digital Xtra Fund, says this is the number we need to focus on to make a real difference to the future workforce.
He said: “It is essential we inspire more girls to get into tech from primary school, leading to increased uptake in secondary and therefore more women completing Higher and Further Education with a variety of technology related qualifications.
“Only by focussing on the talent pipeline from the beginning can we make a tangible difference in the end. However, despite considerable effort, we simply do not have enough computing science teachers to reach the level of engagement required to achieve this, and these numbers are getting worse. In 2008, there were 766 computing teachers in Scottish secondary schools, while in 2017 there were only 582 – a 24% reduction.
“More needs to be done out with the classroom to support teachers and engage more girls and young women in tech. We need to show young women what is possible and make it fun by supporting accessible and relatable activities. Taking tech out of the classroom can also help make the link from something they enjoy and is important to them, to a future career.”
He added: “When you are shown how to do something, such as coding or data analysis, and also understand why the end result is relevant, it’s only natural to be drawn in. For example, research has shown that girls are more likely to engage with STEM subjects when there is an obvious benefit to society or their communities which is why we see a higher proportion of women in life sciences and medicine than in other areas of science and technology.”
Digital Xtra Fund is currently supporting several initiatives who are doing a fantastic job engaging girls and young women including: Glasgow Life, which is targeting young women by combining technology with fashion and design; Banchory Primary School in Clackmannanshire which is combining coding and robotics with music and dance; and Firpark Secondary School in North Lanarkshire which areisrunning an all-female VEX robotics after school club.
Brown adds: “In addition to engaging girls at a young age, it is also important we improve the links between education and industry to ensure these young women, their parents, and teachers have the opportunity to understand the range of rewarding job opportunities in the tech sector. These links also give girls and young women the opportunity to see and speak with women currently in these roles to act as examples and mentors. This is where organisations like SWiT (Scotland Women in Technology) who have partnered with Digital Xtra Fund to support activities targeting girls and young women, play a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation of women in tech. SWiT raised funds contributing towards a donation of £5,000 to the Digital Xtra Fund this year.”
Elaine McKechnie, Vice Chair for SWIT, said: “We are delighted to support such a great cause for women and young girls in Scotland that can really impact a positive shift in gender for the future workforce. The Digital Xtra fund is exactly the type of organisation we’re proud to partner with as part of the Scottish eco-system to encourage more women in tech.”
The pandemic has taught me how to share more – and I feel a better leader for it
As a young professional starting out in the tech sector 30 years ago, I thrived on the fast pace,constant change and demanding workload. I lived in London, Singapore and Australia…
We need to shout about our successes. Liz Fletcher on celebrating women in biotech
Throughout my career in biotechnology and life sciences, I have seen many women leading ground-breaking research studies in their fields of expertise. Yet, and I include myself in this, we…
Getting the best out of patient data is key to unlocking future health benefits in Scotland
It is important that clinicians’ voices are heard in the consultation around Scotland’s new health and care data strategy, which closes this week (12 August). Busy GPs like myself are the trusted…
How motherhood helped me be a better leader
Consider this an open letter to anyone I have worked with before I became a mother and before I fully understood how being a parent is actually a prized asset…
‘We cannot achieve our goals without entrepreneurs’ – Kate Forbes on vision for new ‘tech scaler’ network
From the very start of my ministerial career, I have had responsibility for the Scottish tech sector – and I can still say what I have said from the start,…
Finding a role in cyber was ‘tough’ for Cheryl Torano. Now she’s determined to help other women join an under-represented industry
When I decided to upskill to change careers at the age of 30 and dive into the digital world, I knew I would be starting out at the bottom of…
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…