Too much potential talent is not available to Britain’s burgeoning Tech industries because state schools are still creating a ‘gender bias’. Too many talented young women do not regard IT as a suitable ‘female’ career because of gender stereotypes taught in state schools.
Half of all state schools in England are ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’ according to a report published by the Institute of Physics (IoP) just before Christmas.
Using the National Pupil Database to analyse student A-level choices the report found that in half of mixed state schools English, biology and psychology were very ‘female biased’ subjects and physics, maths and economics very ‘male biased’.
About half of all co-ed state schools in Britain did not even enter one female candidate for physics A-level. It seems that Britain’s schools have pigeon holed physics as a ‘boys’ subject which is a notion that needs to be eradicated immediately.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 2013 skills survey discovered that only 7% of professional engineers in the UK were women and that this figure has only risen by 2% over the last five years. This compares with 18% in Spain, 20% in Italy and 26% in Sweden.
The Science and Technology Commons Select Committee is currently studying the progress of female students and academics pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths careers and hearing evidence from education providers.
The IT industry is obviously fluid and businesses need to re-invent themselves every few years. There is no sitting back on past glories in our industry and young talent is the essential fuel for that re-invention. We cannot afford to be recruiting from only half of the available talent.
My company has designed and created its own ‘Cloud Academy’ that will provide industry led training for approximately 60 apprentices in Cloud technology every year. It is hoped that the academy will see at least five new candidates joining the ANS team each month. We have found it very difficult to recruit female cloud apprentices because they do not regard it as a suitable career.