female in tech

When reflecting on representation of female tech leaders, the numbers are still not looking good.

Only 9% of C-suite leaders in tech companies in the UK are female, with only 3% of CTOs or Technical Director roles held by women. Sadly, these stats aren’t isolated, and it feels like the chorus of ‘we need to do more’ is still present.

In my role as director of careers education programmes at IN4 Group, some of the biggest factors I see contributing to the gender diversity gap in tech is lack of opportunity and accessibility. For example, many women that I meet are under the assumption that they don’t have the right experience or would have to return to university to get a specific degree or qualification if they want to start a tech business. The reality is that many people already have the necessary skills – they just need the tools and confidence to take those skills and put them into a tech environment.

We run a variety of different programmes that are designed to be as accessible as possible, particularly for women who may have had career breaks or changes, or childcare commitments. Small steps like this are vital in removing obstacles and can be the difference in someone deciding to take an entrepreneurial leap.

Looking at how we can remove the barriers to entrepreneurship is one of the core values at HOST 50 – a fully funded accelerator programme on a mission to create a community of business leaders from all backgrounds.

This year, the programme will include a series of interactive workshops that encourage peer-to-peer support whilst providing access to experts in the tech, investment, product development, innovation fields. Those joining us will also have access to state-of-the-art facilities at HOST in Media City, Salford – including R&D and prototyping environments that enable the exploration of technologies including immersive, AI, gametech and data science.

What sets HOST 50 apart is that it doesn’t just focus on hard skills. Over the 12 weeks, we concentrate on getting to the heart of what might be holding entrepreneurs back – such as overcoming fear, how to take the next bold step or building confidence when pitching for finance.

One of the best parts of the job is seeing what our programme alumni go on to achieve next. Judy Leung is an amazing female entrepreneur who joined HOST 50 after completing our FreelanceHER 100 programme. Armed with greater knowledge, new skills and renewed confidence, she has gone on to successfully set up Sweqlink – a marketplace for sweat equity investment opportunities. What appealed to Judy most was the holistic approach that the programme took and the recognition of the additional challenges that women face when starting their business.

If we want to move the dial on gender diversity in tech, then we must make the routes for female founders more accessible and with those specific challenges in mind. I hope that with action, not just words, we will finally close the gap and bring some much-needed diversity to a sector that so desperately requires more talent.

Applications for the next HOST 50 programme are now open: HOST 50 | An unrivalled opportunity for 50 start-ups (hostsalford.com)

Lauren-Monks

About the author

Lauren Monks, Director of Careers Education Programmes at IN4 Group, operators of HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology