Tackling the tech gender gap early on

Even though there is a significant need for computer programmers in the UK— recent research found that a new tech job is being advertised every two minutes in the UK, yet only 26% of the country’s tech workforce is made up of women1. There is no doubt that more has to be done to address the gender gap in the sector and entice more women to choose a field with prosperous chances in the UK. The path to getting more women into tech, in the view of Justin Nihiser, CEO of Code Ninjas, the kids’ coding specialists, begins early on.

Similar issues with gender equity have been seen in other industries, such as care workers. According to a recent study, caring personnel are 88% female compared to just 12% male2. Although preconceptions of some industries are being justifiably questioned, as a society we have grown accustomed to the notion that some professions are more male or female. It is debatable if certain genders or individuals from particular backgrounds are better suited for certain occupations, but there are some industries that are missing out on the potential benefits that a varied workforce can make collectively.

Although it is crucial to ensure that our industry is as diverse as possible, we must also recognise that women contribute significantly more to a business’ success than simply assisting in achieving its Diversity and Inclusion targets. A British Computer Society survey discovered that young women outperform their male counterparts once they decide to pursue computer science3. Without discounting the contributions that male programmers make to the field, it is apparent that the sector is losing out on a wealth of talent by refusing to confront its negative stereotypes of women.

Positive perceptions about the industry must be established right away for this to be successful. It is evident that gender disparities start early; recent research found that young girls report less enthusiasm and self-efficacy in technology compared to boys4. However, the same study discovered that there was no significant gender gap in girls’ interest in technology compared to boys’ interest when provided positive programming experiences reported. While the study indicates how strong early-life STEM preconceptions are, it also shows malleability. Teachers, parents, and legislators can help girls have positive STEM experiences by creating academic pathways that can lead to more interest in computer science. The greater the range of children we can excite about coding now, the greater the diversity of thinking and problem-solving we will see in the next generation of STEM leaders – bringing new and surprising solutions to the problems we face in the future.

We have made public pledges to create an egalitarian society, promised to pay women on par with their male counterparts, and committed resources to the advancement of women’s careers. And yet, in spite of all of this, gender inequality remains pervasive. Is gender bias ingrained in us? And will there ever be gender parity in technology? As it stands, girls are missing out on both the professional and personal advantages that learning about STEM fields at a young age will present to them. Leaders at Code Ninjas believe that a solid foundation and early use of technology will pave the way for the future in order to address this gender equality disparity. Though diversity encompasses much more than just gender, at Code Ninjas, the emphasis is on developing analytical and problem-solving skills that will serve both boys and girls now and in the future.

1 CodinGame

2 Tech Nation: Diversity and Inclusion in UK Tech

3 Nursing and Midwifery Council

4 British Computer Society

5 Journal of Experimental Child Psychology: Programming experience promotes higher STEM motivation among first-grade girls

Justin Nihiser is CEO of kids coding specialists, Code Ninjas. At locations across the UK, Canada and the US, kids learn to code in a fun, safe and inspiring learning environment. With a game-based curriculum, kids love to learn and parents clearly see results.

For more information, visit www.codeninjasfranchise.co.uk