Businesses join forces to push gender equality in technology

Claire Reid, Regional Leader of PwC Scotland

A MAJOR initiative to address gender balance in technology roles has launched in Scotland, backed by PwC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Morgan Stanley.

The firms have teamed up to launch the Tech She Can Charter in Scotland, which aims to generate a lasting increase in the number of women pursuing technology careers. The signatories believe that if the people working in technology roles don’t reflect wider society there is a real risk that the products and technology advances will be biased.

The Tech She Can Charter was launched nationally in 2018 to tackle the factors behind the shortfall of women in technology roles and share best practice across the business world. First established with the backing of 18 major organisations there are now more than 130 signatories.

The Charter, which was launched in Scotland last night (5th December) at PwC’s offices in Edinburgh, will act as a springboard to encourage Scottish-based businesses to come together to inspire more young women to pursue technology careers.  

Tech She Can was created following PwC research which found that only 23% of people working in STEM jobs were female. PwC’s Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap report revealed that only 27% of women would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. And only 3% of females said it was their first choice of career.

The reasons why female students aren’t considering technology roles include:

●        ‘no one is putting it forward as an option to them’

●        ‘they aren’t given enough information at school about what working in technology involve’

●        ‘a lack of female role models’

Claire Reid, Regional Leader of PwC Scotland, said:

“Having worked in a variety of technology roles throughout my career I know firsthand how much work is needed to address the issue of gender balance. That is why I’m delighted to support the launch of the Tech She Can Charter in Scotland.

“This is an important societal problem and the Charter will see industry in Scotland working together to tackle the root cause of the lack of females in technology roles. With technology coming to influence every aspect of our lives, we need to ensure that the people creating technology are representative of the population and that women have an equal opportunity to take part in the jobs of the future.

“We want to inspire and educate more females across Scotland to consider technology as a career option, with the ultimate goal of improving the gender balance. To do that, we need businesses to sign up to the Charter and I welcome other businesses to sign up and help create a better future with better opportunities for girls and young women.”

Wincie Wong, Head of Rose Review Implementation at Royal Bank of Scotland, said:

“The technology sector is one of the country’s key economic drivers and Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to partner with PwC and Morgan Stanley to help deliver the Tech She Can Charter in Scotland.

“Scotland is home to some of the sector’s leading businesses and this Charter will not only play a role in helping drive gender balance and foster new opportunities but will help the sector attract more talent and build a sustainable, long-term future.

“By working together we can encourage more girls and women to consider a career in technology and help the industry thrive.”

Siân Allsopp, Executive Director, Enterprise Technology & Services at Morgan Stanley, said:

“Diversity is a business imperative – there is abundant evidence supporting the performance of diverse companies and teams.  Diversity in technology is no different – if companies want to develop the best ideas and deliver first-rate solutions in the future, diversity is key.

“To achieve diversity we all need to do a better job of inspiring children, but particularly girls, from all backgrounds to consider a career in technology.

 “You cannot be interested in a career that you don’t yet know exists, so the #TechSheCan initiative is empowering teachers to ignite curiosity for a career as technologists in our younger generation – with all the opportunities and variety that it could bring them.”

As part of the Charter, a schools-focused initiative to showcase to both boys and girls the careers that are available to them. Tech We Can aims to inspire school students across the country to consider a career in technology, and boost the diversity of future technologists. Lesson plans are now available to schools across the UK through an online portal.

Without coordinated action at school age onwards to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse tech talent, the Tech She Can signatories believe the UK could lose its competitive edge on the world stage. This could mean not being able to meet businesses’ technology skills needs, losing out on inward investment and creating inherently biased algorithms.

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