Too few women in IT - the facts

17 June 2014

e-skills uk

The gender imbalance throughout ICT and computing education must be rectified if the UK is to meet the growing demand for IT professionals, and secure the future growth of the sector.

The Women in IT Scorecard published today by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and e-skills UK reveals that girls account for just 6.5% of those taking A level computing. However, they consistently out-perform boys in computing and ICT A levels.

Women in IT scorecardThe Scorecard examines participation rates and trends by gender from secondary education through into the IT workforce. It includes international comparisons by gender in IT occupations and the IT sector, as well as an evaluation across other STEM subjects.

Gillian Arnold, Chair of BCSWomen says; “The continuing decline in women entering the IT profession is a real threat for the UK and an issue that clearly we need to address. This report helps to identify the areas where we need to focus our energy.

“While there are some good indications in the findings that suggest there is progress is some areas (for example - an increase in the number of women working in IT part-time), it’s still not enough. We need to work together, as individuals, educators and businesses to tackle the issue. We know girls and women are good at computing and we need to translate that ability into action, and inspire them to see IT as a career option that offers them great career opportunities.”

The report also investigates whether the low representation levels of females is a problem limited just to the IT workforce in the UK, or is an issue that needs to be addressed throughout STEM subjects and across the globe. The research shows that in a comparison with other European nations the level of female representation in IT positions within the UK is slightly below the norm.

Karen Price OBE, CEO of e-skills UK adds: “Women have a significant contribution to make to the IT sector and it is vital for the economy that we ensure they have the opportunity. Employers care deeply about the gender imbalance and are committed to taking action to improve it. This joint report provides the evidence we need to face the problem head-on, and to develop hard hitting and effective interventions to solve it.”

Key findings:

  • By 2013, less than one in six (16%) of the 1,129,000 people working as IT specialists in the UK were women
  • Of the 753,000 people working in the IT sector at this time, just one in five (20%) were women
  • In 2013, within the IT sector itself little more than one in ten (11%) IT specialists were women
  • The proportion of women working as self-employed IT specialists has more than doubled over the past decade
  • Just under one in five (18%) of females working as IT specialists were employed on a part-time basis - a figure well below that for other occupations
  • Women are much more likely to hold technician/engineer grade positions than men (34% vs. 20% respectively) and less likely to be working in ‘professional’ (primarily development related) occupations (46% vs. 57%)
  • Female representation within IT specialist roles is higher within the devolved nations than in the UK as a whole (19% vs. 16%)
  • At £640 per week, the median gross weekly rate of pay for female IT specialists was 16% (£120) less than the comparison figure for men working in IT roles (£760) and the recorded level of pay for women IT roles has been consistently below that of male IT specialists in each of the past 10 years
  • Gender imbalance in both the IT industry and in IT occupations is an issue to all EU15 nations
  • Female representation is in these industries/occupations is lower in the UK than the EU 15 average

The full report can be downloaded at:

Background information: IT & Telecoms is central to the UK economy and a key source of competitiveness for all sectors; opening up new markets, increasing performance and driving productivity. The IT & Telecoms industry alone represented an annual gross value added (GVA) of £75 billion in 2012 - approximately 8% of the UK total in that year, whilst the continued adoption and exploitation of ICT having the capacity to generate an additional £47 billion of GVA to the UK economy over the next five to seven years.

IT also accounts for a significant proportion of UK employment and in 2013 there were just under 1.4 million people working either within the IT industry sector or in IT roles within other parts of the economy (753,000 in the IT industry and 643,000 IT professionals working in other industries). These are the people upon which the 29.7 million employees who use IT in their daily work rely upon for the creation, implementation and operation of systems, services and communications, forming the backbone of companies across the UK.

e-skills UK’s recent employment forecasts work, in partnership with Experian, identified that there is a need for around 129,000 new entrants a year into IT & Telecoms specialist job roles through to 2015, with a minimum of around 22,600 (17.5%) likely to be filled by people joining from education.

About e-skills UK: e-skills UK is the employer-led organisation responsible for ensuring the UK has the technology skills to compete in the global economy. Through us, leaders from global corporates, SMEs, and technology-enabled companies come together to create the pipeline of technology skills and talent that is vital for economic growth and job creation. We do this by inspiring talented young people into digital careers; providing industry-relevant entry routes for them, including degrees and apprenticeships; and ensuring current professionals keep apace with priority areas like cyber, big data, e-commerce, mobile and cloud.

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