Women in Tech

National Programmers Day: only 16% of programmers are women

20th September 2023
Paige West

National Programmers Day, celebrated on the 256th day each year, highlights the impact of programmers on making our digital world run seamlessly.

The celebration was chosen to be hosted on the 256th day of each year due to the number’s significance within the foundations of computer science and programming. Simply put, computer values are stored in bits, which make up bytes, and a single byte can include 256 unique values.

However, this day is celebrated against the backdrop of women being significantly underrepresented in the tech sector, making up only 26% in the UK, and more specifically, only 16% of programmers are women. This means an additional 486,000 women would be needed to make gender diversity in IT proportional to the UK’s overall workforce.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer for FDM Group, said: “FDM Group recognises the significance of programmers for enhancing our day-to-day lives and how their dedication is what allows us to communicate and work with such ease in today’s interconnected world.

“It should remain high on agendas for the number of women in tech to reflect the reality of the UK’s population as they can be key to bridging the ever-pervading skills gap. In order for this to happen, the tech industry must continue to create spaces for women to train and/or retrain in relevant digital skills and leadership, such as the Apprenticeship and Returners Tech Programmes FDM Group offers. Providing opportunities for women to be upskilled is a key way to help tackle gender inequality in tech, and drive the number of entrants into programming.”

The number of global programmers is expected to exceed 28.7 million by 2024, making programming a growing field for prospective tech workers. FDM Group’s Apprenticeship Programme offers students a three-year paid apprenticeship in which they gain skills training and practical experience in IT, with aims to bring more diverse talent to the UK’s workforce.

FDM Group’s Returners Tech Programme has a 75% female intake and helps upskill those returning to work after a career break, highlighting how hiring returners boosts business productivity can facilitate better representation of women in tech.

FDM also hosted a SheLivesTech bootcamp earlier this year, which helped bolster the skills of women pursuing careers in tech through training in programming skills and personal mentoring sessions.

This comes following research from Forbes which found that programming is one of the top five in-demand tech skills for jobs in 2023. Acknowledging the important work of programmers and the need to create a more inclusive space for women programmers will in turn be vital in bolstering the efforts for the UK to become the next Silicon Valley.

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