Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has launched an exciting new scheme to encourage young people interested in a tech or creative career. Funding from the London Local Enterprise Partnership, together with money from the European Social Fund, will help support businesses for the next two years. The money will be used to fund new school programs, create apprenticeships for young people, and improve existing careers programs.
Technology employers in London will have a say in how the schemes are designed, the idea being that the various schemes will encourage young people to grow their talent and enter the pipeline for a career in tech. The industry needs homegrown talent and the Mayor of London is determined to nurture young Londoners.
A Lack of Females in Tech
One of the problems the scheme is hoping to address is a lack of young women, particularly those from ethnic minorities, who aim for a career in technology. The mayor hopes this new scheme will level the playing field and make it easier for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and deprived communities to consider a career in tech.
There is no shortage of tech careers around the world, with top Silicon Valley tech giants always on the lookout for talent. Tech graduates from the top universities in the U.S. or Europe are often recruited straight from college, but it is also possible to find tech jobs via specialist recruitment agencies. For example, you could join LeoVegas if you are interested in working with mobile, or you could try applying for an internship with Google. Either way, there are opportunities available, but not as many for female applicants.
Why are there Fewer Women in Tech?
A report from McKinsey found that only 37% of women held entry-level tech jobs in New York, whereas in other industries, that figure rose to 47%. The higher up the career ladder women progress, the worse it gets, with women like Melissa Mayer from Yahoo an exception rather than the rule.
The Disparity between Male and Female Students
Many people have analyzed why far fewer women enter the tech world and the answer is not as simple as it first appears. STEM subjects tend to be male-dominated at school, with fewer girls pursuing math and computer science. Once girls reach college, the situation is even worse, with some girls the only females on their courses. This discourages many girls from pursuing a tech career, because they don’t want to feel socially isolated.
It’s hard being a woman in a male-dominated environment. In college, there are projects to complete, which require collaboration between students. If you are the only female in a class of 30 male students, you are going to feel out on a limb. It makes it harder to learn. Most tech courses are taught by male tutors, which doesn’t help matters either. Bright female students are not always given the support they need to pursue post-grad positions. Women tend to talk themselves down, so they really benefit from extra encouragement.
Innate Sexism in Tech
The tech industry also has a huge problem with innate sexism. There are numerous reports online of how women have been discriminated against, or openly harassed in male dominated workplaces. Only the strongest and most determined women succeed. Many more extremely talented women drop out, unwilling to work in a culture that discriminates against women from the moment they enter the workforce.
Sadiq Khan’s scheme may help to encourage more young women to think about a career in tech, but until the industry starts supporting them better, many of these women won’t stick around.