Today is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the achievements of women from around the world. It is also a day where we look at where gender inequality is still a significant problem that needs to be addressed. It is well known globally that there is a lack of women within the wider digital sector. According to Tech Nation, within the UK women only make up 19% of the tech workforce. Only 28% of the UK’s games workforce are women and across the wider creative media industries, it’s 36%.
The problems with gender diversity don’t stop there. Similar numbers can be found across higher education statistics, with large gaps between the number of male and female participation within related subjects as can be seen in GCSE and A Level results. These diversity issues are further compounded, by the complete lack of data around other genders such as anyone who might not identify as male or female and who are also often underrepresented within the digital workforce.
This is a topic very important to the DSP, as improving diversity of all kinds is one of the key areas we are hoping to improve across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. And it is why we are excited about the launch of a new insights report today from the Cornwall based TECgirls.
TECgirls was founded in November 2019 by our Board Chair Caitlin Gould, along with a number of other women and men from across the Cornwall digital, tech and engineering sector. The volunteer organisation was set up with the aim of tackling gender imbalance in Cornwall’s Technology, Engineering and Creative Digital (TEC) workforce. TECgirls believes that fair representation leads to better products, better services, better infrastructure, a better environment, and better life chances for people of all genders.
The organisation aims to address the imbalance by inspiring a passion for TEC subjects and activities among primary-age (6–12) girls and children of all genders that are under-represented in the TEC workforce. The ultimate goal is to encourage more girls to take part in further education and informal education (clubs and home exploration) that could lead to a career within the TEC sectors.
The Annual TECgirls Insights Report will hopefully create a baseline of understanding around the current attitudes towards TEC from young girls and their parents. TECgirls also wanted to understand what type of TEC related activities were available both in school and at home. While the organisation’s research goals and scope were limited by COVID, the report still highlights some extremely valuable insights that will shape the work TECgirls plan to do over the next 12 months.
According to Caitlin Gould, “We hope to share this research so that it can provide some valuable insight and feedback for other organisations such as local schools, Cornwall Council, the Employment Skills Board, and of course we will continue our close work with the Digital Skills Partnership. There is a huge growth in Cornwall jobs within industries such as software development, engineering, robotics, aerospace and video game design. It is important that girls across Cornwall know there is a future in these areas, and we are passionate about improving the gender balance in TEC related further education and careers.”
Some of the most interesting findings include:
- Cornwall is performing worse than the national average in regards to gender equality in computing GCSE’s and A levels. This shows a real need for organisations like TECgirls and suggests that more could be done with schools and the council to support their efforts to tackle this issue.
- Girls are interested in doing more engineering and robotics-based activities. They also show an interest in animation, making games, and other creative digital skills. Engineering is the TEC subject with the worst gender balance from education up to employment, so this is a key area to work on going forward. TECgirls plans to invest more time into activities that meets both the needs from industry and the interest from girls.
- There is a lack of awareness around jobs and opportunities for parents and girls around TEC related jobs in Cornwall. More work needs to be done to introduce these roles and show women working in them.
The full report can be found here.
“While some of the TECgirls Annual Insights Report paints a stark picture for gender balance, it also highlights a lot of opportunities for improvements and growth, and we look forward to working with a range of different partners to try to create change and make a positive impact for girls across the county. We also hope that some of our educational outreach activities will benefit both girls and boys inspiring everyone to think about TEC related careers”.
As a DSP, we look forward to working with TECgirls to better understand how we can support their work, making a positive change for girls across the county.