By Miriam Murphy, European CEO of NTT Ltd

The tech industry stands out as an exceptional area to thrive in—a dynamic, rapidly evolving field that encompasses a whole spectrum of opportunities.

From developers and data scientists to IT consultants and project managers, we see all kinds of people from different backgrounds building careers. And with continuous innovation accompanied by the emergence of new roles, the potential for diverse talent to flourish is truly limitless. But it would be remiss to talk about talent in the tech industry without calling out its prevailing gender imbalance.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in the first half of 2023 alone, the number of women in the British tech industry fell by 3,000, despite a sector-wide employee increase of 85,000. With current figures reporting that women account for just 26% of employees in the tech sector, this decline puts into question whether cautionary spending in today’s uncertain economic climate disproportionately affects women. When it comes to the gender pay gap, figures are equally disappointing – 91%  of tech companies pay their male employees higher salaries, putting the median hourly pay at 16% higher for men than women.

Starting at the source

Women in tech are at a disadvantage not just financially, but also when it comes to having positive female role models within the industry. Without strong role models, employees struggle to feel motivated or empowered, and cannot bring their best ideas or their best selves to work. The lack of representation is holding young people back from pursuing careers in tech, with only 27% of female students surveyed considering a career in technology, compared to over 60% of male students.

The industry must act fast to empower more women to pursue technology roles. This doesn’t mean, however, that inspiring the next generation should be your only focus. Supporting, nurturing, and celebrating women already in tech is equally as important. Redressing the gender imbalance means building a more equal workplace today and into the future – and it’s certainly not a task that can be done by a select few organisations. Collective responsibility and action are crucial.

Take action today

Start by opening up a public discussion around the issue and where you or your business stands on it. This could be talking about common barriers to entry, the growing skills gap, what diversity means for the wider business landscape, and how leaders can empower those who will succeed them. By participating in or creating your platform to discuss experiences and share advice, you can reach and inspire the next generation.

Hosting female-led events is a great way of attracting new female talent and giving existing employees a platform to share their experiences. Education is key to helping women understand just how many roles and opportunities there are in the technology sector, and how they match up with their skills and aspirations. Taking this one step further, 1:1 mentorship from senior tech leaders can be invaluable in helping women carve out their careers in the industry.

This is why I’m especially proud of our TechGirl initiative, which brings together female leaders in the tech sector to provide support and foster the growth of young girls who are considering venturing into or have already entered the industry. I believe it’s incredibly important to start as early as possible when nurturing aspiring young minds to give them the best opportunities to reach their full potential and help shape a future workforce that is diverse and inclusive.

Repairing the gender imbalance also means removing organisational roadblocks to enact real change. This could mean implementing policies for menopause, miscarriage, or family leave for older female employees. An example of this is efforts for paternity leave to be on par with maternity leave, thereby affording women the choice to remain in the workforce. When developing these kinds of policies, it can be useful to find key movements and causes to align with. Collaboration with the right causes will drive wider awareness and change within the industry.

It can be difficult to prioritise non-profit-driven tasks, such as mentoring and education, particularly in today’s economic climate. But these activities are integral to an organisation’s future and the future of the entire tech industry, so sponsorship from business leaders and the board is vital. Only by championing women in tech and motivating the younger generation to pursue the industry can we create truly welcoming and productive workplaces where ideas can flourish, and issues can be addressed immediately.

Encouraging potential, regardless of gender, is everyone’s responsibility and a cause that I feel passionately about, both personally and professionally. Starting with young people – the women in tech of tomorrow – is the key to invigorating the industry and remedying today’s disheartening industry statistics. While we have a long way to go, the technology industry, by design, is one of change and progress. Just as I’m excited to see how technology will evolve and change our world for the better, I’m hopeful that we will be able to motivate a similar evolution within the sector itself, ensuring that everyone passionate about the industry has a place within it.

About the author

Miriam Murphy is NTT Ltd.’s European CEO, where she is responsible for driving sales across the region. In her role, Miriam leads NTT’s European businesses using her extensive experience across the region. She believes strongly in the power of technology as a business enabler and as an overall force for good societally and economically.

Her 30 years of experience in the IT Channel, business transformation and integration at scale – including go-to-market strategies and workforce enablement – supports NTT’s clients and ecosystem, enabling the company to supercharge its efforts in Europe at a time of great change.