Women in IT are on a 283-year march to parity, BCS warns

Chartered institute highlights lack of progress in tech role equality

It will take 283 years for female representation in IT to make up an equal share of the tech workforce in the UK, according to a report from the British Computer Society, the chartered institute for IT (BCS).

BCS has calculated that based on trends from 2005 to 2022, it would take nearly three centuries for the representation of women in the IT workforce – currently 20 percent – to reach the average representation across the whole UK workforce, currently at 48 percent.

BCS's annual Diversity Report also found that progress towards the gender norm was stalling in IT jobs. Between 2018 and 2021, the proportion of women tech workers rose from 16 percent to 20 percent. But there was no change in 2022, according to BCS analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics.

Julia Adamson, BCS managing director for education and public benefit, said in a statement: "More women and girls need the opportunity to take up great careers in a tech industry that's shaping the world. A massive pool of talent and creativity is being overlooked when it could benefit employers and the economy. There has to be a radical rethink of how we get more women and girls into tech careers, and a more inclusive tech culture is ethically and morally the right thing to do.

"Having greater diversity means that what is produced is more relevant to, and representative of, society at large. This is crucial when it comes to, for instance, the use of AI in medicine or finance. The fact that 94 percent of girls and 79 percent of boys drop computing at age 14 is a huge alarm bell we must not ignore; the subject should have a broader digital curriculum that is relevant to all young people."

More women are believed to have joined the industry during the pandemic due to "increased flexibility, such as working from home," said Jo Stansfield, co-chair of BCS Women.

"This meant they could balance careers with other responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly relatives - tasks which still fall disproportionately on women. What's needed is the development of inclusive workplace policies and practices to retain our workforce and to keep building on it," Stansfield added.

In recent times, many tech employers have called their workers back to the office, including Amazon, Google, IBM Software, Meta, Zoom and more.

In terms of pay, the median hourly earnings for female IT specialists in 2022 was £22 per hour, 8 percent less than that recorded for males working in IT positions.

However, women achieved a higher representation in some senior IT roles than junior ones. For example, in IT director roles, their representation is 22 percent, while in programmer or dev jobs the ratio of women was at 15 percent.

Women were more likely to have a degree or equivalent than their male counterparts in IT jobs. Sixty-nine percent of women working in IT have a degree, compared to 64 percent of men. Men, however, are more likely to have an IT degree.

Across the pond things aren't much different. In the US, women hold only around 27 percent of tech-related jobs, and tech firms with more than 10,000 employees report women's representation at 26 percent, according to Statista. The ratio of women in the all tech-related careers has fallen over the last 2 years.

Overall the proportion of women in the US workforce is roughly the same as the UK at 47.7 percent. Women make up about 25 percent of the 329,559 software engineers in the US, and salaries for software engineering roles are about 7 percent less for women than men. ®

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