Statistics from Gov.uk show that women account for 52.7% of the total UK workforce, yet they only hold 26% of jobs in the technology industry. Additionally a recent PwC study indicated that only 3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice and only 16% of themf have had a career in technology suggested to them. These statistics are shocking yet unsurprising when you hear that, 76% of the respondents to a 2023 Women IN Tech UK survey said that they have experienced gender bias or discrimination whilst working in technology at least once, and 79% agreed that there is a gender pay gap in the technology sector, with men earning a higher salary.
In honour of International Women’s Day 2023 and the UN Woman’s theme of DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, we wanted to speak to some of the women here at Engine B and ask them about their experiences as women working in tech. This three-part series will explore some of the challenges women in tech face, ways in which we can strive to make change, as well as advice for other women considering careers in the technology industry.
Do you feel that you have encountered obstacles in your career because of your gender, and if so, how did you overcome them?
No, I genuinely don’t think I have. I have typically worked in quite male dominated industries and luckily I have generally found my working environments to be supportive and not gender biased. That said, my advice if you do encounter this would be to find some allies – these could be men or women – and try to understand if this is just you or if others are experiencing the same. This will help you to work out how best to tackle it. I would definitely say don’t just accept it, try to tackle it and if you can’t, then it might not be the place for you to grow and develop, but don’t put up with it.
What positive measures does Engine B take to ensure equal opportunities at all levels?
We are really focused on diversity, in all its forms and fairness and transparency in all that we do. We are a virtual based team which allows people some extra time at the beginning and end of the day as people don’t need to travel to an office, and this helps people to manage the work/life balance. Additionally when we are recruiting externally, we actively ask for a mix of candidates to make sure we’re looking for the best people for the role regardless of gender. We also review our pay and reward on an annual basis with our HR advisers and externally benchmark to roles and experience to ensure equal pay.
What advice would you give to other women who are thinking of founding their own company or who want to be leaders?
Do it! I think as women we are sometimes guilty of worrying that we might not have all the skills and experience we need, and we may keep putting it off until we think we are ready. The reality is nobody does (men included!), but we all learn on the job and if every business founder waited until they thought they had all the skills they needed, the number of businesses founded would be far fewer, I’m sure. If you’ve got a good idea and the right support around you to be able to do it, I would say go for it. What have you got to lose?
What pressures do you think women feel in the workplace that their male colleagues do not?
I think men generally feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and being vocal in the workplace whereas many women have been socialised to be compliant and therefore we can often be seen as quieter and more obedient. There is also the stereotype that one gender is better at performing certain tasks then the other, leading many to assume that men are more suitable for leadership positions and that admin roles might be more appropriate for women, which I would argue isn’t true.
Do you think the Tech industry is doing enough to make progress towards gender equality
I believe that the future for women in tech is bright and there will be more of us in the coming years. To ensure this, it’s so important for the industry to promote women pursuing careers in tech and to encourage their interest in the industry, especially as traditionally and statistically tech is seen as male-dominated field.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to dream big! I think sometimes women tend to be more cautious and often will prefer to take the less risky road even if that means not reaching our career goals. As a young woman you should know that there is nothing impossible and you can be whoever you want to be as long as you keep trying. Don’t be afraid to take risks – you never know what will happen if you don’t try!