Why getting more women into tech is more than a pipeline issue

UK diversity start-up, Structur3dpeople aims to take on the lack of gender diversity in technology using the power of the hashtag.

The gender gap has made headlines for years, and at first glance, it’s easy to atribute the lack of women in technology, finance and entrepreneurship as a pipeline issue.
The statistics from Girls Who Code reaffirms this: about 74 per cent of young girls express interest in STEM subjects, economics and computer science. Yet by the time they get to choosing their fields for higher education and their subsequent careers, things change.

In the US, only 18 per cent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 per cent of computing jobs are held by women. Representation at leadership levels in the corporate world is even more bleak; only 5 per cent of top positions in tech are held by women.

Empowering the next generation of tech, business and finance leaders may not just be a pipeline problem if young girls are demonstrating a growing interest in foundation subjects. A more pressing issue may be to improve women’s participation in the tech industry at each key stage of their careers, to spring clean corporate culture of its inherent biases and to ensure that that women are given the skills needed to fill existing roles.

The social media campaign by UK diversity start-up, Structur3dpeople, #GettingMoreWomenIntoTech aims to do just that.

The start-up is helping women around the world to explore the variety of roles in tech and digital by promoting the visibility of role models. The campaign has so far seen men and women tweet pictures from Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, India, New Zealand and Canada.

The company is developing the skills of women through a number of mentoring programmes to help them progress with careers in tech, move into leadership or start up their own companies, while helping to bridge the current gender gap in the tech industry.

In April 2016, Structur3dpeople launched three programmes in London, providing mentoring to 70 women from senior level executives, delivered over the course of one year by male and female mentors. A month after the programmes started, 96 per cent said their confidence increased after the first session, while 50 per cent of the women applied for jobs they may not have otherwise considered.

“Mentors and role models are pivotal in developing skills as well as providing confidence, building resilience, encouraging aspirations and advancing careers. I am excited to see such great results already from the programmes where we are increasing the female talent pipeline in addition to progressing more women into leadership and developing female founders,” Structur3dpeople director Rav Bumbra says.

“The social media campaign demonstrates that tech is a creative industry and exhibits the career paths that can be forged to the highest level. We want women working in any tech role to collaborate with us and step forward as role models. You cannot be what you cannot see and this campaign is a great way to show the next generation what a career in tech looks like.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, president at techUK and executive vice-president at Sage who headlines the campaign passionately believes in the power of diversity and its ability to create more successful businesses. “Playing our part at grass roots level will help to create digital talent so badly needed to fuel our digital future,” she explains.

With over 200 women expressing an interest in joining the mentoring programmes in London alone, Structur3dpeople are keen to collaborate with organisations to roll out the programmes nationally, with Bristol and Liverpool being the next to launch in April 2017. Their aim is to place over 1000 women into tech and digital roles by 2020.

The mentoring programme starts in April 2017 in London, Bristol or Liverpool.