2 women talking at work

By Claire Penketh, Senior Press Officer, BCS The Chartered Institute for IT

The Chartered Institute for IT, BCS, has cautioned that if the current trajectory persists, it will require 283 years for women to achieve parity in the technology workforce.

The imperative to close the gender gap in IT is urgent, particularly to ensure that emerging technologies like AI accurately mirror society, asserts BCS.

According to BCS’ annual Diversity Report, the percentage of women in tech increased from 16% to 20% between 2018 and 2021. However, this progress plateaued in 2022, with the proportion of women in the sector remaining stagnant, as revealed by BCS analysis of ONS data. The representation of Black women in tech specialists rose marginally from 0.3% in 2019 to 0.7% and has then stalled.

Julia Adamson, MBE, MD for Education and Public Benefit at BCS, emphasizes the need for a paradigm shift to facilitate more women and girls entering the tech industry. She advocates for a more inclusive tech culture, asserting that greater diversity results in more relevant and representative outcomes, especially in areas like AI in medicine or finance.

The recent trend of returning to the office may be a contributing factor to the halt in the rise of women in tech, suggests Jo Stansfield, co-chair of BCS Women and an inclusivity expert. Stansfield advocates for inclusive workplace policies to retain and expand the tech workforce, considering not only women but also individuals with caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, and health-related needs.

BCS reports that the underrepresentation of Black women remains unchanged, with barriers including a lack of flexible working, limited career development support, micro-aggressions, and a pervasive ‘tech bro’ culture. Nicola Martin, a BCS and Women’s Engineering Fellow, urges a collective effort to address these issues and actively promote change. Nicola, who is included in the UKTech50 longlist and Computer Weekly 2023 Most Influential Women in UK Tech list, said: “We need more black women coming into the industry and, more importantly, wanting to stay. There needs to be a coming together of all the different pressure groups in this area to amplify the issues and work with organisations to make active change.” 

In addition to stagnant female representation, the BCS report highlights the scarcity of part-time work in the tech sector, with only 5% of tech specialists working part-time compared to 23% across all occupations. Although women in IT are more likely to work part-time than men, the figure is nearly three times lower than women in other occupations.

Despite challenges, the BCS Diversity Report brings some positive news regarding pay, revealing that women in tech earn substantially more than those in other jobs, with median hourly earnings of £22 compared to £15 for all female employees in full-time work.

The report also sheds light on the underrepresentation of individuals over 50 and those with disabilities in the IT sector. BCS plans to release a dedicated study on neurodiversity in the tech workforce in the coming year.

About BCS

BCS mission is to promote and advance the education and practice of computing for the benefit of the public. BCS brings together industry, academics, practitioners, and politicians  to shape public policy and inform the public. We are a professional membership and accreditation body serving over 70,000 members and provide widely recognised professional qualifications. We are also an end-point-assessment body for digital apprenticeships.