The Institute of Coding (IoC), a government-supported initiative designed to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap, recently hosted its second annual conference at the IET Savoy Place in London. At this two-day event, new research from the IoC and Deloitte was shared that provides powerful insights into the factors that motivate women to study and work in the digital sector.

It reveals that 54 per cent of women working in non-digital jobs said the main reason they were not pursuing a digital career was because they did not know how to retrain or did not believe that they had studied the subjects necessary to work in digital. Furthermore, 49 per cent of women university students believe they are not studying the right subject to work in digital, and 59 per cent of 16-18-year-old women believe you need to have a GCSE in a STEM subject to work in digital. These statistics highlight a need for improved signposting of digital education and careers, including accessible information about the qualifications required to enter the sector, so that people are more aware of the educational options and career paths available.

Titled ‘Diversifying Digital’, the research concluded that there are three important ways to encourage women of all ages to pursue digital education and careers:

Smarter signposting, so that women can make informed choices about the digital educational opportunities and career paths available to them.
A digital rebrand to myth bust some of the preconceptions about the digital industry and showcase digital as diverse, accessible and open to all with a wide range of creative, collaborative and innovative roles.
Flexible learning that responds to the diverse ways women at different life stages like to learn, allowing for a more tailored delivery of digital education.
The research also examined specific motivations that could help employers recruit a more diverse group of employees. For example, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of women university students said that they would consider pursuing a digital career if there was a possibility of using digital to make a difference in the world and contribute to future technology. Similarly, 60 per cent of young women said they would consider a digital career if there was the prospect of a good salary and clear career progression. The research highlights the need for tailored marketing and recruitment for women at different life stages in order to attract them into the digital sector.

Shilpa Shah, Alternative Delivery Model and Deloitte Women in Technology Leader, said: “Improving the diversity of those studying and working in digital is critical, as technology is transforming all aspects of our lives. A diverse workforce will ensure technology develops and benefits every section of society.

“Digital businesses need to demonstrate that they can offer attractive career options for women. Without these efforts, digital businesses and the economy as a whole will miss out on a hugely valuable pool of potential talent.

“There are always routes into digital. Our research shows that we need better signposting at every life stage and that by showcasing the diversity and breadth of digital jobs, we should be able to attract and retain more women in digital education and careers.”

Rachid Hourizi, Director, Institute of Coding, commented: “I am delighted to share this new research from the Institute of Coding and Deloitte. This provides important insights from women about the factors that could motivate them to pursue digital education and careers. Moving forward, policy makers, employers and educators will make most rapid progress if they work together to develop better signposting, rebrand the industry and launch new, tailored, flexible courses to upskill workers and spread opportunities across the UK.”