Women and coding: it’s not a new partnership. During the second world war, some 10,000 women became the backbone of America’s and Britain’s intelligence infrastructure by becoming code breakers. The code breakers were tasked with comparing and recognising patterns in encrypted code to neutralise threat and improve the chances of winning the war.
If women were such instrumental code breakers, why are they severely outnumbered in the tech industry today?
Just 17% of positions held in technology roles (including web and software development, network infrastructure and security technology) are held by women. The gender imbalance is a real issue faced by women looking to enter and progress in STEM roles. But as we move further away from the 1940s, how can we readdress the gender imbalance faced by today’s would-be female coders?
The key to this power struggle seems to start with education. Less female students are opting for tech-related courses, with some 16% of STEM degrees being picked up by women
. But what’s the underlying reason for this? Is it simply that women don’t want to code, don’t want to develop their understanding of technology, don’t want a career in tech? It’s unlikely. What’s more realistic is that the environment just isn’t primed and ready for women – the industry is too stuck in its brogrammer culture and is in itself inherently hostile to women forging their career here.
So if any woman who makes it through is unwelcome, it’s not surprising to learn that women quit jobs in tech at twice the rate of their male counterparts
. Nurturing an environment where male dominance literally pushes out female employees is ludicrous, but with women earning 29% less and getting fewer salary offers than men for the same job it’s not a shock to see how female techers aren’t interested in progressing their career here for long.
In India, the split of female to male coders is nearly an even 50:50
, so where are we going so wrong in the UK? Starting with education seems like the logical launch point – there’s been a significant amount of noise to get more girls into coding, setting up specific initiatives that support young women getting into STEM and simply making more opportunities available. This is all a welcome shift, but if the working environment doesn’t improve would this put aspiring female coders off?
The sooner women in STEM becomes a mainstream feature and educational institutions support a stronger female workforce, the less common the brogrammer culture. This should encourage more women to commit to a career in coding and tech. Initiatives and social enterprises like Girls Who Code
and Code Like a Girl
all contribute to creating opportunities for women to thrive.
How else can we help women break through in coding?
Offering high quality training that doesn’t discriminate is a great start. The more women who train and become certified in key areas including web development and software development, the more readily available female tech workers become. As soon as more women become certified, the more diluted the available pool of talent, opening up a wider choice for employers.
Why do employers favour men in tech roles? The chances are, it’s because more men are available to recruiters than women are. By choosing a training route that supports you into education and actively helps you find a job you’ve worked hard for all helps. Initiatives like #YesSheCan
is a great place to start. Why wouldn’t you opt for a full careers service?!
So, are women able to break through in the tech world? Without a doubt, yes. Are employers ready? They’re getting there.
You won’t be surprised to hear that there’s a serious skills shortage in the tech sector – so now is a great time to get certified and start your career in coding. If you’re interested in brushing up your skills, or starting your career in coding from scratch, courses in web development and software development are a great place to start.
With over 13,000 web developer and over 19,000 software developer jobs currently listed on Indeed.com, you’re looking at a promising career path! Most employers look for coding skills in HTML5 and CSS3, so getting these under your belt will stand you in good stead. Becoming certified will help you break through in the IT sector and establish your career here – learn more about becoming certified in web development and software development here:
Want to read more? Earlier this year, we spoke to Tanuja Randery, a leader in the IT industry and now an Operating Executive with Apax Partners, about the gender imbalance in the tech industry:
Gender imbalance in the tech industry