Rachel Gowers, Director of Staffordshire University London

Why should women go into tech? You’ve probably heard many of the same arguments before: it will make you employable, it pays well and we need more representation.

All of these things are true, but they also make a career in tech seem like something women should be obliged to do rather than something they should want to do. A career in tech always sounds exciting for men – but it’s exciting for women too and that’s the message we need to get out.

There is no doubt that we need to address our digital skills gap. European Commission figures show that around 37% of workers in Europe don’t have even basic digital skills, not to mention the more advanced and specialised skills companies need to successfully adopt digital technologies.

The starting point to this is education – 61% of women said they wouldn’t consider tech because no one has ever spoken to them about it and they don’t know what it involves. It’s about motivation – we are clearly not doing a good enough job of talking about the opportunities a career in tech can offer. This needs to change.

Ultimately, all careers now have an element of tech to them. We are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution – most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation in the skill sets required to do them, whether they were initially regarded as ‘tech careers’ or not. Rather than being daunted by this prospect, this is an opportunity for women to think about how technology can help them tap into a whole range of career paths.

So here’s why women should want to go into tech and how they can go about doing it.

Tech is creative

Technology is consistently presented as the polar opposite to humanities or the arts and 20% of women said they wouldn’t consider tech because it was not creative enough. But the opposite is actually true – the ideas and vision you can bring to technology allow for huge amounts of creativity.

At Staffordshire University London, we offer degrees in games design where you can design the look and experience of a game in its entirety. That is an art form in itself. Effectively all that’s different is the language and process associated with technology and by not being exposed to this early on, people feel it is inaccessible and alien to them.

Like anything, once you get the hang of the basics, there is so much potential to explore and create something new. We use laptops now to write and create art – why not do the same with code?

Tech is collaborative

Another myth around tech is that it conjures up an image of sitting alone in a basement behind a computer – not anymore.

Tech needs people at its centre. Innovation cannot happen without relationship building and teamwork and these skills will always be valued, whatever you end up doing.

Studying a technological subject at university will still involve contact hours and communication and opportunities to socialise, just as any subject does.

At Staffordshire University London, we also encourage collaboration with industry and other universities. Based in the innovation campus of Here East, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, our students work alongside dozens of tech businesses and other universities who have all come together to create, innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Tech is versatile

You don’t have to dedicate yourself to one thing. You can start with something that looks interesting and progress into another – if anything tech gives you more flexibility than most careers to do that.

The whole range of technological careers or areas of expertise can be overwhelming. Start with what you are interested in and build out from there. If you are motivated by climate change then maybe you start learning about clean energy solutions, and then maybe you learn how you might start building those solutions and then before you know it you are working in greentech. Developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology are all building and amplifying one another – if you start learning one set of skills you might just find they can easily translate into another.

Like many careers, women wait to apply for things until they feel they have enough experience. This often holds them back from proactively applying in order to gain that experience. You don’t have to have life-changing ideas before you start or know exactly where you want to end up – you will learn by doing and you will never know what you are capable of until you try.

The World Economic Forum has said that 33% of jobs in 2023 don’t exist yet. These kinds of statistics can make you wonder where to start and how you can even begin to prepare for an uncertain future. But it’s a reminder to remain flexible and open to new opportunities as and when they arise.

Regardless of what that job might be, technology will always be an exciting and valuable sector to study and work in. Let it be your blank canvas to take you where you want to go. Because the more women that want to work in tech, the better our tech will be.

Rachel Gowers and colleaguesAbout the author

Rachel has worked in the education sector for 25 years and held roles as Associate Dean for Staffordshire Business School, Marketing Manager at UCAS and Head of Student Recruitment for Birmingham Met.​ She has worked internationally in Vietnam, China and Norway and co-developed the world’s first Esports Degree and Masters. A youth marketer at heart, Rachel is always looking for what’s next and has contributed to many successful funding bids, papers and award-winning campaigns throughout her career.​ She is passionate about developing confidence, communication skills and agility in tomorrow’s graduates.​