Girls Hindered in Tech Careers by Gender Bias & Encouragement Gap

London resident Aayza reminisces about her A-level computing days with a mix of fondness and discomfort. Despite her love for the subject and her proficiency in it, she often felt like an outsider.

“In a classroom dominated by boys, I frequently felt like I didn’t belong,” shared Aayza, who holds the distinction of being the first woman in her family to pursue higher education and secure a professional position.

“When you don’t see anyone who looks like you in a room, it’s natural to question your place there.”

Aayza represents a growing number of young women challenging the concerning trend of steering away from technology careers. She took a significant step towards combating this trend by enrolling in the FastFutures and BT Group Data Bootcamp, aimed at cultivating skills highly sought after by employers, such as data analysis.

Recent research conducted by the BT Group among 11 to 17-year-olds in the UK sheds light on a stark gender disparity in perceptions toward tech careers. Nearly twice as many boys as girls described themselves as ‘very well suited’ for a tech career (25% versus 13%). Conversely, girls were twice as likely as boys to consider themselves ‘not very well suited’ for the industry (26% versus 14%), with only half the desire of boys to pursue a tech career (15% versus 30%). Moreover, girls expressed less confidence in their ability to pursue a tech career compared to boys.

The study also unveiled a tendency among children to gravitate towards traditionally gendered career paths, influenced by societal stereotypes perpetuated both at home and in school. While boys leaned towards careers like video game design, software engineering, and sports-related professions, girls were drawn more towards nursing and fashion.

Aayza’s personal experience reflects the impact of such stereotypes. Being a woman of Pakistani descent wearing a hijab in a predominantly white male classroom intensified her sense of alienation. Despite her passion for technology, she initially pursued a degree in mathematics with aspirations of becoming an accountant.

However, Aayza’s journey took a turn when she embraced her skills and joined the FastFutures and BT Group Data Bootcamp after graduating from Kingston University. Equipped with practical data analysis skills and support for employability, she landed her first job as a data consultant, breaking through barriers she once faced.

The research findings also highlighted the perception among girls that tech careers are more heavily marketed towards boys, with a significant lack of female role models in the industry.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, emphasized the urgent need to address these disparities. Initiatives like the ‘Work Ready’ events aim to empower young girls by providing them with insights and support to navigate the tech industry without being hindered by outdated gender norms.

As BT Group continues to roll out its Work Ready programme in schools across the UK, efforts are underway to bridge digital divides and equip young people, including girls and those with disabilities, with the skills needed for the evolving workplace landscape. These initiatives align with BT Group’s commitment to supporting young people in acquiring essential tech skills as outlined in response to the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022.

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