Computer programming jobs are growing 12% faster than the market average – here’s how business and society can encourage more women into the profession.
The schooling may be hard, but the opportunities are broad. As a coder, you could just as easily find yourself working for a hot tech start up as you could a high street fashion brand. And since a report from Burning Glass revealed that programming jobs grew 12% faster than the market average, these opportunities will keep on coming.
This is great for skilled job seekers, but tricky for employers. As the present tries to catch up with the future, there’s more demand for people who can code than there is supply. Fortunately, pathways exist for women to break in, through education programmes, university recruitment and businesses who foster and support women into the field.
Start as you mean to go on
While computing-related fields are a major growth area, non-profit organisation Girls Who Code notes that by 2020 women are on track to fill a mere 3% of these jobs in the US. In the UK women account for just 21% of the country’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce, with only 3% saying tech is their first choice career, according to PwC. This is stark news for today’s female coders, but it’s also an opportunity for the future. One of the clear ways to close the skills gap is to pave the way for women, starting when they are still girls.
Parents across the UK who are signing their children up to after-school programmes will know that coding clubs are a way to nurture young, prospective tech leaders. Within a single term, today’s children will be able to code instructions and create their own computer games.
nd it’s more than after-school; coding has been embedded into the UK school curriculum since 2013. As reported by the Guardian’s Stuart Dredge, Michael Gove, the education secretary at the time, said that the revised curriculum teaches children “not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for you”.
Echoing a similar ethos, Melissa Sariffodeen, co-founder and CEO of Ladies Learning Code, is committed to sharing the language of coding to women and girls to “help us understand, harness and build – not just consume technology”.
“Learning to code is like learning any new language. While the barriers to start are really low, to become proficient and a strong developer requires practice,” says Sariffodeen. “Technology is always changing and evolving so there’s always something to learn and keep on top. That is what makes the industry and roles so dynamic for so many people – including women.”
Pique the interest of the best and brightest
As an industry with its own language, coding can be intimidating to outsiders. That’s why university fairs have become an opportunity for tech companies to present not just themselves as great employers, but to attract new talent that would not necessarily identify themselves as techies.
“Attracting a diverse workforce must start in schools and at universities,” says Sheridan Ash, who heads up PwC’s Women in Technology programme. “We want to get the message out early about the broad opportunities of working in technology which go well beyond the stereotypes.”
Continue onto The Guardian to read the complete article.