[Column] Gary Bannatyne: The time for young women to Level Up in tech is here
Although women have come a long way in the workplace in terms of the roles they are now filling, they still make up an incredibly small percentage of the ICT sector.
"One reason for this, is that there are too few women in the talent pool, and fewer women are studying ICT subjects and courses at school and university," says Gary Bannatyne, MD and co-founder of The Digital Academy. “For many years, the government and society at large, have discussed how to get more females into technology careers. There have been conferences held, committees formed, and numerous reports written,” he adds.
However, one thing is clear, Bannatyne says, and that is that education and inspiring girls to choose ICT as a career is crucial for the long-standing and sustainable representation of women in an industry that is heavily dominated by men. So how can we encourage more women to look at technology as a potential career? Bannatyne says there needs to be an ongoing effort from schools, colleges, universities and industry, to encourage women to pursue careers in technology.
Unfortunately, he says studies indicate that the gender gap in ICT begins at school level and carries on throughout the course of many women's education. “Fewer females than males study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at school, and this gap follows through to university level.”
And it is this shaky pipeline that needs to be addressed, says Bannatyne. “It's a vicious cycle. Many women say they have been put off a career in ICT, because they see the industry as being too male dominated. This needs to change.” According to Bannatyne, this is why Level Up, an institution that was born out of The Digital Academy, has introduced an affordable six-month course, called WorkReady. It is designed to transfer all the skills women need to see if they have the aptitude for, and interest in, a career in technology.
“Businesses today are desperately looking for digital skills. Level Up helps students embark on a journey into today’s exciting and innovative digital economy. “For women, this is a very real opportunity to change the game and drive more gender equality in this sector. The Level Up WorkReady course has been carefully designed to provide the most relevant skills for any woman who is considering pursuing a career in the software industry.”
As an industry, we must all play a role in inspiring girls to enter the ICT industry, he ends. “This is crucial to the sustainability of the industry. Creating awareness is a good starting point, but it doesn't drive change. Action is needed to move the industry forward, and that’s what Level Up is hoping to do.”