Women in ICT and Digital Technologies: An investigation of the barriers to women entering, staying, and progressing in the sector, and actions to ameliorate this - Executive Summary

Helen Graham, Vanesa Fuertes, Valerie Egdell, Robert Raeside

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

This report summarises research conducted to explore the under-representation of women in the ICT and Digital Technologies sector in Scotland, and the possible reasons for, and solutions to, this problem.

A mixture of desk-based and original quantitative and qualitative empirical research was carried out in order to explore the barriers to women entering, staying and progressing in the sector.

The research suggested a number of features of the sector that may put women off entering it, or staying in it, and may explain in part women’s lower representation:
• Negative perceptions of people who work in the sector – the nerdy young male of popular and media stereotypes;
• A lack of visible female role models in the industry;
• An expectation of long working hours and a lack of flexibility;
• A male dominated workplace, that is both itself intimidating, and potentially leads to gendered working cultures and practices;
• A feeling among female employees in the sector of not belonging; and
• In some cases, direct instances of discrimination, or negative assumptions about their competences on the part of employers and clients.

The solution to this imbalance is therefore likely to lie in:
• Getting girls engaged in computing and increasing uptake at school level;
• Increasing awareness of opportunities in the sector among secondary pupils, in partnership with industry;
• Supporting female students in further and higher education, offering mentoring and networking opportunities and promoting opportunities in the industry to them; and
• Making employers and those working in the sector more aware of the benefits of diversity and family friendly working practices, and encouraging employees and employers in the sector to challenge unconscious bias.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh Napier University
Commissioning bodySkills Development Scotland
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2016

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