Reading Room has joined forces with many major organisations to help increase the number of females taking up technology roles in the UK.

The launch of the ‘Tech She Can Charter’ sees the industry commit to working together to reach more young females across the UK and inspire them to pursue technology careers.

The Charter has been founded to tackle factors behind the shortfall of women in technology roles. Currently only 23% of people working in STEM jobs are female. PwC’s research Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap reveals that only just over a quarter (27%) of females said they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. And only 3% of females said it was their first choice of career. The reasons why female students aren’t considering technology roles include:

• Not being aware of it as an option
• Not being given enough information about what working in technology involves
• A lack of female role models

Without coordinated action at school-age onwards to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse tech talent, the Tech She Can signatories believe the UK could lose its competitive edge on the world stage. This could mean not being able to meet businesses’ technology skills needs, losing out on inward investment and creating inherently biased algorithms.

The founding signatories include PwC, British Science Association, Business 3.0, Digital Jam, everywoman, FDisruptors, Girlguiding, InnovateHer, JP Morgan, Modern Muse, money.co.uk, NatWest Markets, Sophos, Smoothwall, TechGirls, Tech Talent Charter, Tesco, T Systems, and Zoopla Property Group. More organisations are expected to join.

Sheridan Ash, Women in Tech leader at PwC and The Tech She Can Charter founder, said:

“Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late - to boost the number of females in technology we need to take coordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school.

“By working together we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives. We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world. Promoting visible and relatable role models is a huge part of this, as it’s hard for girls to aspire to be something they can’t see. There are many brilliant women working in technology roles right across the UK, from creatives and designers, to coders and data scientists. Technology is open to all and we need to get that message across.

“We welcome other organisations to sign up to our Charter and take action to solve this important problem.”

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said:

“We want to be at the forefront of tackling the gender imbalance in the tech workforce and make sure the fantastic opportunities on offer are available to everyone.

“The whole UK government has recently signed the Tech Talent Charter, which focuses on increasing the gender diversity of those already working in tech roles, and we welcome PwC's new initiative to target and inspire the talent of tomorrow."

The Tech She Can founding Charter signatories are signing up to the following actions:

● Collectively work with schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils to consider a career in technology by developing technology tool kits
● Maximise our impact by targeting schools in the Government’s social mobility ‘coldspots’
● Celebrate and promote our successful women in tech role models
● Ensure inclusive access to technology roles in our own organisations
● Support the right environment to attract, recruit and retain females.

Kirstie Buchanan, Strategic Development Director for Reading Room, has issued praise for the cause on behalf of Reading Room:

Reading Room Tech She Can

The research behind the Charter was launched at The Science Museum, with the aim of bringing together different organisations to change the pipeline of women coming into technology roles. 

Reading Room are also active participants in other initiatives that support this cause.

“We are working in partnership with Liverpool Girl Geeks, an organisation on a mission to increase the number of females in tech roles. Liverpool Girl Geeks create positive interventions such as events, courses and workshops to inspire women and girls of all ages, whilst also celebrating and showcasing role models within the tech sector.”

Reading Room is supporting OH, a platform that bridges the gap between education and industry. The aim is to connect talent with industry through alternative education, opportunities, networks and inspiration. This includes pushing for diversity and more females in tech roles, starting with alternative education to nurture a diverse pipeline for the future.

The Flipside Programme is an agency-led, new entrants programme launching diverse talent into digital careers. Reading Room has joined other London-based creative digital agencies to create a world-class Product Design immersive learning programme that will enable businesses to access a wider pool of talent, and enable young East Londoners to be better prepared for jobs in fast-moving modern businesses.