Research published by the Tech Partnership has thrown fresh light on the long standing problem of attracting girls into digital education and careers.
The research, sponsored by leading tech employers BT, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Tata Consultancy Services, looked in detail at the beliefs and attitudes of girls aged 10–18. It also quizzed parents and teachers, and probed the experiences of women already making successful careers in industry. Input from a child psychologist was used to put the findings into the context of girls’ lives, during a crucial period of their development.
Several key insights emerged: among these was that for girls, tech is not a traditional career choice and that choosing it takes courage and determination. Adult support and validation really matters to girls who are considering this choice – and it needs to be delivered consistently and over time. The research also underlines the importance to girls of focusing on outcomes: they are interested in the tangible results of digital progress, rather than the detail of the technologies that achieve them.
The research will now be used to underpin a range of activities designed to promote digital careers to all young people, but particularly to girls. The first of these, Tech Week, was launched today at a reception at the House of Commons, sponsored by Digital Minister Ed Vaizey MP and supported by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The research will be taken forward via a year-long multimedia campaign, My Tech Future, which will target students, parents and teachers with supportive information and inspiring real-life stories.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Vaizey praised the employers who are collaborating to address the issue of gender balance. “The digital economy is critically important to the UK’s global competitiveness, and to ensure the nation flourishes we need an inclusive, diverse and well-prepared talent pool. It’s exciting to see employers coming together to find new ways of ensuring that women and girls can play their full part in the world of technology. The tech sector, and the nation, needs all their talent, skill and enthusiasm."
Jacqui Ferguson, Senior Vice President at HPE Enterprise Services UK&I and MEMA, spoke of the wider context of the My Tech Future programme. “Just about every career nowadays requires digital skills, and this will only be more true as time goes on. At HPE, we know how important it is to support young people at every stage of their educational journey in tech – for instance, we sponsor the TechFuture Girls programme for 10–14 year olds – and we’re delighted to be working alongside many other organisations to open doors to students during Tech Week. This research will help us all to focus our efforts even more successfully in future.”
Karen Price, Chief Executive of the Tech Partnership, said, “Digital employers are passionately committed to attracting the brightest and best candidates, and they know that it is never too early to start promoting the benefits of tech education and careers. Through Tech Week, employers are taking the opportunity to show many hundreds of young people the creativity and excitement of technology.
Through the continuing My Tech Future campaign, many others will be adding their voices, showcasing inspiring role models, and educating teachers and parents about their children’s opportunities.”