The “worrying” under-representation of women in tech related roles could be contributing to the IT skills gap, and hurting the economy.
In a debate in the House of Commons, MPs debated the lack of presence of women in science and technology related jobs.
According to MP Valerie Vaz, the cutting of government funding to the UK Resource Centre which provides support for women in science, education and technology (SET) roles is hampering attempts to create equality in the workplace, and affecting the economy.
She highlighted statistics from the UKRC which show that only 5.3% of all working women, or one in 20, are employed in a science, engineering and technology occupations. This is compared with one in three men.
“Nearly 100,000 female STEM graduates are either unemployed or economically inactive,” Vaz said in a Commons debate. Speaking mainly about the impact on scientists, the situation is the same in tech related fields, and its effects are wide reaching.
“That is bad for the economy,” Vaz continued, “particularly in engineering, which is a predominantly male workforce, with many engineers over 50 and due to retire in the next 10 years.” Indeed in the IT industry this has been particularly evident, with various areas, such as mainframe development for example, in dire need of an influx of highly trained staff with a retiring workforce not being replaced by a younger generation.
While this is a problem for all genders, the inability to attract women into tech based roles is threatening to expand what is generally regarded as a significant skills gap in the IT industry and other areas such as engineering. As the likes Google’s Eric Schmidt and IEEE president Moshe Kam, speaking to TechEye in the past, have pointed out, there is a problem at school and higher education level. However the problem is magnified in terms of difficulties in actually attracting women into tech related roles following education in STEM subjects.
According to Vaz there is not enough being done by the government, and a drop in funding to the UKRC brought about by government spending cuts could risk hampering the organisation’s ability to support such aims. She urged Business, Innovation and Skills minister David Willets to "think again" about cutting grants for the UKRC, and help support attracting more women to roles in STEM subject jobs.
To read the full article, click here. (TechEye.net, 'Gender gap in tech jobs threatens to widen skills gap')