International Women’s Day with Hayley Roberts

Blog | Posted: 11-03-2022
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Hayley Roberts, CEO of Distology

Tuesday 8th March marked International Women’s Day, so we sat down with our CEO Hayley Roberts to reflect on the past year and see how equality is being achieved within the tech sector, and what more still needs to be done.

Is the tech industry moving in the right direction in regard to supporting gender equality?

Despite industry efforts to level the playing field and encourage more women to consider a career in tech over the past few years, the figures are still nowhere near where they need to be. Statistics from the ONS revealed fewer than a third of UK tech jobs are held by women and while this is a steady increase on the past few years, when you look at leadership and technical roles, the figures are far lower.

It’s difficult for me to digest these stats when I know a) how interesting, fulfilling and dynamic a career in tech can be, and b) just how much value women add to tech businesses. The stats speak for themselves. Companies with higher levels of equal representation are more profitable and companies with at least one woman on the board of directors outperform those without any women by 26%, according to Gartner figures.

Have there been significant strides in the past year in supporting gender equality in tech?

The fact gender equality is so openly addressed within the sector goes to show people are much more open to the idea than they used to be, but we must see how these discussions are put into practice.

It goes without saying that the last two years have been challenging, however the pandemic has led to more and more businesses offering remote and flexible working options. In the long term, this will ultimately lead to more parents, male and female, being able to return to work while being able to balance family life and their careers.

There is is still a way to go, especially when it comes to educating women and younger generations on the roles on offer in the tech space. With tech being one of the world’s fastest growing industries, it’s my personal mission to encourage more diversity in the sector. From roles in the industry being analytical rather than creative, to those in the industry having to be technically minded, there is work which needs to be done to showcase the huge variety of diverse roles in the sector.

What still needs to be done?

With the number of women wanting to work in the sector so low, it’s obvious that the industry needs to collaborate and really showcase what opportunities are available, while highlighting the skills which can be transferred into a career in tech.

By upskilling employees currently working in other areas of tech, or by opening doors and educating the next generation of employees on the great opportunities available, there is a huge opportunity for the sector to diversify its workforce.

Education is key and we need to be prioritising how we can educate people from the outset, whether that’s through apprenticeship schemes or finding ways to integrate more tech focused subjects into the school curriculum. While there are some apprenticeship schemes out there, there’s certainly more we can be doing to close the gap. This is something we are looking into at Distology, and we have found it is a great way to encourage younger people from all backgrounds into the sector.

Right now, there is a real absence for certain skill sets and that is why we are seeing a good amount of people being approached by companies for roles which may not necessarily match their experience. Many don’t know just how many skills are transferable to a role in tech.

However, I cannot stress enough how important it is that employers adapt to attract and retain a diverse range of talent. A big priority for potential employees is flexibility and many employers are still falling short of offering flexible ways of working, meaning they miss out on huge opportunities as it is discouraging people to apply for roles.

I think there is a real lack of education around opportunities in the cybersecurity sector. With tech being one of the world’s fastest growing industries, it is my personal mission to encourage more diversity in the sector.