Creating gender balance in the IT industry
A 2019 study by WISE (a Diversity and Inclusion employer partner) found that the one million females who work in STEM occupations account for just 24% of the workforce. If we dig deeper, we find that female workers represent just 16.4% of IT professionals in the UK – a mere 0.7% increase from 2009 to 2019. This is not representative of the female population.
Where are IT businesses going wrong in securing female talent? And how can early talent help to solve this dilemma for the IT industry?
Leaders in the early talent arena, TheTalentPeople, recently undertook research using their intuitive and insight-rich database to produce their Females in IT report. In the report we discover that in 2019-20 the number of female candidates with a strong desire for a career in IT increased by 5%. It also shows a 26% increase in females actively applying for IT apprenticeship roles between 2018 and 2020. This is fantastic news for the industry as young females are interested and ready for an IT career, and they feel confident enough to apply for these roles.
But sadly, this increase in interest and applications does not translate into successful acceptance onto an IT apprenticeship. As the report states, in 2019, just 12% of those starting IT apprenticeships were female. This is far lower than both the representation of females in the industry and the interest from young female talent we have experienced. How can that be?
Many factors may contribute to this disparity between desire and applications, vs. acceptance onto programme. It could be that the candidate is in the wrong location or has the wrong skillset – this is information we can quantify. While other details, such as lack of representation of your gender, race, or other protected characteristic which might put an individual off, is much harder to track. But there is a way.
Over ten years, TheTalentPeople have honed their student recruitment solutions, enabling businesses to identify key drop-off points for candidates. They use this insight to change strategy or tactics in real-time, providing more efficient campaigns with better results for employers, from attraction to onboarding. This work will highlight where the disparity between interest and placement is happening, but IT organisations still have a part to play in successfully inducting young female talent to a career in IT.
Top tips for achieving gender balance
- Review recruitment strategies end-to-end, paying attention to candidate drop-off points for underrepresented groups.
- Mine diverse talent pools and work with partners who can actively target underrepresented groups.
- Maintain engagement with underrepresented groups throughout the recruitment and onboarding process to help reduce the gap between interest and placement, increase retention, and learn from candidates.
- Finally, to see a systemic and long-term change, IT organisations must find and utilise role models that demonstrate their dedication to being an honest and inclusive business. To achieve true gender balance, organisations must look further than good representation within their attraction campaigns.
There is so much young female talent ready to begin their journey in this industry. If employers can take this advice and work with an early talent partner who can help them achieve their goals, we will start to see the gender balance gap rapidly reduce.