As more men than ever want to get into tech, research indicates that a lack of self-belief contributes to a lower level of female engagement.
The research, conducted by Tech City UK and Hays Recruitment, highlights that of those young people who want to work in technology, 70% are male and just 30% are female.
For young women, technology was ranked as the third most popular choice of career (13%), behind Professions (e.g. law, medicine, accountancy), (36%) and Creative & Design (26%).
Young women were more likely than men to believe that they do not have what it takes for a career in tech. Some 45% claim they ”do not have the skills to work in technology”, 38% “lack knowledge about technology” and 24% claim it is “not for people like them”.
In contrast, young men who spurn a career in tech claim that it is because “other areas are more appealing” (50%).
These figures tally with recent research, which shows that just 16pc of the people currently working in the European technology sector are female.
The gap widens further when analysing responses from 15-16-year olds. Of those who want to work in technology, 74% of the 15-16-year-old bracket are male and just 21% are female.
The talent shortage is one of the biggest challenges faced by high-growth digital companies and their leadership teams today.
Unemployment may lie at a 42-year low in the UK but there remains a severe shortage of skilled personnel, especially in the technology sector.
According to the British Chambers of Commerce, the problem has reached “critical levels”. Leaders at digital businesses claim that talent supply is their single greatest challenge.
Yet technology is failing to capture the imagination of young people. Our research shows that across all young people, technology is ranked as the third favourite career (24%), behind professions such as law, medicine, accountancy (28%) and ‘start my own business’ (25%).
Respondents who want to work in the sector were asked to describe the benefits of working in technology.
They said that they were attracted by the ‘fast moving and exciting nature of the tech sector’ (55%), the ‘interesting jobs’ on offer (54%), the ‘good pay’ (50%), and interest stimulated by ‘large tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google’ (45%).
However, the tech sector must do more to win over the next generation of workers.
Young people cite job security as the most important aspect of future work (93% responded either ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’) followed by salary (92% responded ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’).
Tech firms may be failing to consider these areas when seeking to engage young workers, and losing out on this crucial age group.
There are initiatives underway that hope to address the situation. As part of the Government’s new Digital Strategy, unveiled last year, more than four million free digital skills training opportunities will be created nationwide.
The aim of the initiative is to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business and ensure the digital economy works for everyone.