Sheridan Ash, Technology and Investments Director at PwC, realised that there weren’t enough women in the tech workforce, so decided to do something about it by creating a variety of initiatives that address gender imbalance.
Seeing beyond the technology gender gap, to a world where women play an equal part in creating our future.
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Ash wears two hats; “I look at the strategy around how technology is used with clients, and I also look at how technology is disrupting us as a business,” she explains. “My favourite role, though, is as our Women in Tech leader.”
This involves taking action to get more women into technology roles. “I set up Women in Tech because it was pretty obvious to me that we didn’t have enough women in the technology workforce and felt this was something we needed to address,” says Ash. By founding the Tech She Can Charter she has encouraged the firm’s clients and wider business to address gender imbalance in the industry.
Determined to make a difference
Ash is determined to make a difference and get more women into tech. “I believe you can only do that by working together across businesses, across industry, with Government and with educators,” she says. “That’s how we’ll really make an impact.”
“By working together we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives,” says Ash. “We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world.”
Figures relating to the UK, source: PwC Women in Tech
The technology industry is having trouble recruiting women, despite being one of the UK’s most exciting industries
Technology is changing the way we work. From Artificial Intelligence to Augmented Reality and from 3D printing to drones, forward-thinking companies are using the latest technologies to work smarter, unlock their potential and prepare for a brighter future. In truth, this isn’t really a choice. They have to do it if they want to survive the digital revolution — and then thrive.
Not surprisingly, with all this innovation taking centre stage, there are a huge variety of career opportunities currently available in tech. Yet, disappointingly, research from multinational professional services network PwC reveals that only 27 percent of female students would consider a career in technology — while, alarmingly, just three percent named it as their first choice. The same research, which surveyed over 2,000 A-Level and university students, shows that the gender gap in technology starts at school and carries on through every stage of girls’ and women’s lives.
Increasing the number of women in tech
So while the tech industry can offer rewarding roles and inspiring working environments, it’s clear that one key factor is holding it back: diversity. In short, technology is still perceived as a largely male domain.
In order to make tech a more attractive and inclusive working environment for all and, ultimately, change the ratio for women, PwC has brought together a group of organisations that have signed up to its Tech She Can Charter. The Charter commits them to working together to increase the number of women in technology roles in the UK.
Gaining experience while getting a salary
The firm also runs four-year Technology Degree Apprenticeships in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds; plus four-year Data Science Graduate Apprenticeships with the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews. The Apprenticeships have all been designed so that students can gain a blend of work experience with the company’s tech teams during work placements, receive fully funded tuition, gain a degree — and get paid a salary.
Plus, there’s its three-day Women in Tech programme which offers undergraduates the chance to shadow successful female leaders within technology, who can demonstrate the variety of opportunities available in the industry.