Search Women in Tech report questions the impact of gender targets and initiatives within sector

Tags: News, Technology & Transformation

The notable shortage of women in tech continues to be a hot topic in today’s business landscape, and the subject of numerous studies followed by some hard-hitting conversations.

Keen to add some more colour to the picture, Search Consultancy’s Technology & Transformation vertical conducted extensive research to determine the contributing factors behind the shortage of women within the UK’s tech sector.

The study closely analysed the impact of widely adopted recruitment strategies to attract more female talent to the tech workforce, including targets and initiatives. The results of the survey revealed some important, albeit unexpected talking points.

The results initially painted an optimistic picture of female representation in the overall professional landscape, with women making up 42 percent of the average company’s workforce. However, a closer look into tech roles specifically revealed that women made up just 21 percent of the average tech team.

Perceptions seemed to conflict with the reality, while nearly 50 percent of respondents said they felt the sector offered the same career advancement opportunities to men and women, 18 percent of those surveyed said their organisation did not consider cross-training or accommodating women returning to work after career breaks.

In addition, the data showed no discernible correlation between the number of women in tech teams and the presence of gender targets. Furthermore, there was no concrete link between the number of initiatives a company had in place, and the percentage of women appointed to tech roles. Overall, targets and initiatives appeared to have little of the desired impact in terms of levelling the gender playing field within the sector.

The responses also revealed a growing concern that the primary focus of attracting more women into tech roles could risk the big picture of hiring the best people, with many expressing resentment towards the perceived shift towards discrimination in favour of women.”

Of the study, Search’s MD for Technology & Transformation recruitment, Kate McClorey said: “The overall picture of the contemporary tech sector is one in which women are a growing presence, albeit a slow growth. Pinning down the driving factors behind this growth is difficult.”

“The dizzying array of responses articulating such opposing views paints a picture of an industry in conflict. Targets and initiatives seem to have little effect, and there is evident hostility towards the perceived move towards positive discrimination. Yet many women in the sector still feel that there is a lack of equal opportunities.”

“As such, I truly believe it’s vitally important for businesses to closely analyse and evaluate whether their targets and initiatives are indeed having the desired impact, whilst ensuring that they continue to hire the best people for their tech teams.”

“Perhaps it’s also time to shift the mic to female talent in the UK’s tech sector, and get a deeper understanding of their experiences within the professional landscape. What barriers have they experienced? Are these real or perceived?”

“These are just some of the questions we need to ask to get the other side of the story. Watch this space.”

To download the full report, click here

*Disclaimer: A total of 61 sector representatives took part in our survey, which we ran over the course of June 2018. We acknowledge that the sample size is not large enough to make bold claims on the current state of the overall tech sector, or women’s role within it. As such, we believe that many of the contributing factors cited in this report merit further analysis and discussion.