Women are Missing a Trick which Impacts our Economy, says Scotland Women in Technology

Scottish women could transform their lives, careers and turbo charge our economy by choosing a career in technology according to Scotland Women in Technology, an industry group set up by Cisco, Dell, IBM, HP, Scottish Enterprise and Oracle.  Despite the lucrative and flexible careers available in the growing technology sector, women account for just one in five of this workforce.   

Scotland Women in Technology celebrates its first anniversary with an event on Thurs 8 September at HP in Erskine, Glasgow.   The theme of this event will be “Sticky Floors”, which will address what women are doing unconsciously to hold back their careers, as opposed to the notion of the glass ceiling. 

Attendees at the event will hear about HP’s growth plans in Scotland and how the company will be working to ensure that it draws on all members of the community to address the imbalance of Scottish women working in technology.

Maggie Morrison Head of Public Sector Networking UK& Ireland at HP commented:

“We need more Scottish women to be part of our growth plans.  This sector provides flexible career opportunities so is ideally suited for anyone with a family or responsibilities outside work.  Technology is one of our few growth sectors, so is a good long term bet as a career option.”

The aim of Scotland Women in Technology is to attract, inspire, empower and retain women by developing a community and network to help grow women’s contribution in IT businesses.   The group was the brainchild of Silka Patel, an executive assistant at Cisco, who had seen a similar group succeed in England. 

Caroline Taylor, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Citizenship IBM UK & Ireland said: 

“It's important that we both encourage women to raise their aspirations, and enable them to maximise the exciting opportunities that exist within IT and the wider technology sector. Technology offers many attractive, and indeed flexible, opportunities for women who want to build an exciting and successful career.”

Caroline Stuart, Director of Oracle Scotland said in her capacity as a Board Member of  e-Skills Scotland:

“The latest issue of the e-skills Bulletin, the definitive source of information about ICT labour and skills in the UK, shows that the number of UK based IT professionals rose for the third consecutive quarter to an estimated 1,093,000 people. This is the highest ever recorded, and means IT professionals now account for 4% of the total UK workforce.

“For the first time since 2008, there were more IT jobs advertised than there were people to fill them: in Q3 2010 the number of positions advertised reached 101,000. And at the same time the unemployment rate for IT staff fell to just 3.1%, compared with 8.3% for the workforce as a whole. With demand so high in such a critical sector, it’s of little surprise that, despite the current economic downturn, employers are crying out for yet more highly-skilled, well qualified professionals. Demand is typically for those with high-level technical skills. And with the UK IT industry predicted to require another 500,000 new entrants over the next five years this trend can be expected to continue.”

 Ishbell McPhail, Internal Sales Director of Dell commented:

“In Scotland, women still account for less than 20% of the workforce in science, engineering and technology.   This is despite the flexible working styles, career and economic opportunities this sector represents.  In the UK 1.2 million people are employed in the IT workforce, so has doubled since the early 1990s, yet the representation of women has steadily declined and continues to do so.

Interestingly although females taking IT related qualifications in secondary education are low in number, they consistently outperform their male counterparts.  The supposition is that if females were more inclined to participate in IT careers then the pool of talent available to IT employers might improve noticeably, with a positive effect on the economy.

The ICT industry is vital to our economy in Scotland.  According to eskills, fully exploiting technology is the single most powerful lever the UK can employ to achieve a wholesale productivity gain right across the economy.


Notes to editors

  • “Women matter” report from McKinsey (2010) shows that companies with a higher proportion of women in top management perform better.
  • The study suggests that the companies where women are most strongly represented at board or top management level are also the companies that perform best.
  • Work/life balance is a key barrier to women, so creating more flexible working patterns (that technology enables) could address this.
  • Better use of women’s skills could be worth £15-23 billion to our economy each year.  (Speech by Theresa May, Home Secretary June 2011)
  • If women were setting up new businesses at the same rate as men we would have 150,000 more companies in the UK. (Speech by Theresa May, Home Secretary June 2011)
  • In 2010 women made up only 12.5% of the members of the corporate boards of FTSE 100 companies. This was up from 9.4% in 2004. (Women on Boards report 2011)
  • Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance. (Women on Boards report 2011)
  • More than 5,400 women are “missing” from Britain’s 26,000 most powerful posts and at the current rate of change it will take 70 years to reach an equal number of men and women directors of FTSE 100 companies, according to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
  • The report, Sex & Power 2011, measures the number of women in positions of power and influence across 27 occupational categories in the public and private sectors.
  • The results of this year's report, published Aug 2011 differ very little from those in the previous report of 2008.  Figures from this year's report reveal while women are graduating from university in increasing numbers and achieve better degree results than men, and despite level pegging with men in their twenties, they are not entering management ranks at the same rate, and many remain trapped in the layer below senior management.
  • In business, women represent 12.5% of directors of FTSE 100 companies (up from 11% in 2008) and 7.8% of directors in FTSE 250 companies (up from 7.2% in 2008).
  • Scotland currently lags the UK by 30% on productivity gains derived from ICT.
  • Barclays Corporate survey shows that technology and tourism were identified as the sectors that will fuel economic growth over the next ten years.
  • This survey (Barclays) also found the technology sector to be most bullish about economic prospects.
  • Technology is an attractive career option for women for lots of reasons, including the ability to work flexible hours, businesses in the industry are culturally accepting of flexible hours and women have much to offer in terms of their style of working.  
  • Low female participation rates start early (at GCSE/standard grade level) and this increases at higher/A level)
  • Given the downward trend the supposition is that this will get worse without meaningful intervention.
  • In 2008 female IT professionals earned 13% less than their male equivalents (across all industries the pay gap is 17%).
  • E- Skills UK Labour Market Research – www.e-skills.com contact Michael Kowbel Michael.Kowbel@e-skills.com

 For further information, contact:

Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932 578 julie@perceptivepartners.co.uk 

Contact: Julie Moulsdale
Phone: 07734 932 578
Email: julie@perceptivepartners.co.uk
Website: http://www.perceptivepartners.co.uk