A recent report has chimed a disturbing note on the prevalence of sexism within the technology sector in the UK. The study, unveiled in the Fawcett Society’s report in partnership with Virgin Media O2, reveals that 72% of women in tech roles have experienced sexism, with 20% of male counterparts perceiving women as not naturally fitting into the industry.
Published on November 1st, the investigation shed light on a wide-spread toxic culture. Respondents pointed towards various forms of sexist behaviour they have encountered, including pay disparity compared to male colleagues, sexist banter, and questioning of their abilities or skills. This striking statistic further substantiates the clamour for change within the industry regarding gender bias and prejudice.
The report further highlighted that 32% of women working in tech roles believe there exists a gender bias during recruitment, with 14% conceding they felt uncomfortable due to their gender during the recruitment process. There is a pressing need, therefore, to make the technology sector more welcoming to women, thus ensuring a balanced, gender-neutral industry.
The issue of sexism seems more acute for women outside of tech, with over a quarter believing that the technology industry involves a significant level of sexist behaviour compared to other industries. It appears to be particularly severe for Black women, with one in three having the experience of others assuming they do not hold a technical role.
Joanna Kori, Head of People at Encompass Corporation, stressed the urgency to address the evident digital skills gap. "It is imperative that businesses focus on developing and implementing improved strategies to both attract and retain women in tech - for the benefit of the sector today, and to encourage the leaders of tomorrow... with a focus on fostering an inclusive environment that provides the needed support," Kori said.
She further emphasised the roles that women themselves can play in making progress: "Women themselves must also be confident in their skills and seek out opportunities. This will go a long way towards helping to break down preconceptions, and it is with a collective push that we will see businesses and employees alike reaping the rewards of a truly diverse workforce."
Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, concurred: "The technology industry is facing a serious skills shortage. It is disappointing to see sexist stereotypes still lingering within the sector." Women hold a pivotal role in solving the skills crisis; Flavell pointed out the need for increased focus on breaking down barriers that discourage women from entering tech. "More support must be shown through offering training courses, flexible working initiatives, and mentoring opportunities to all."