Women in the Technology sector - Virtual First

Women in the Technology sector

In recent years, we have seen progress toward closing the pay gap in the workplace. There have been vast improvements in many sectors, and yet a recent report showed of the FTSE Top 100, only 24% were women. Significantly for the technology industry, this is especially evident through the lack of females in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) roles. A study from Women in Tech shows the economy would benefit from an extra £2.6 billion each year if we increase the number of women in the technology sector. This is due to an IT skills shortage, which could be filled by capable and specialised females if there was the opportunity to do so. Therefore, this workplace inequality is quite a hindrance to the economy and is something that is affecting us all.

Technology is not only an integral part of our economy, but it also drives the development of our future and shapes what life will look like for us all. Investing in women in tech would be a huge move towards a more inclusive and skilled workforce. If we just have one group influencing the decision, there will always be marginalised groups within our society.

What Virtual First are doing

Some of our team at the Christmas party this year

At Virtual First, we are increasingly aware of the gender gap in the tech industry. Therefore, we are striving to be more inclusive wherever possible. The majority of our workforce is made up of women, particularly among our tech specialists. Our goal is to provide equal opportunities to everyone we employ, supplying them with the tools to flourish.

Hannah, our operations manager and someone who plays a large part in our hiring process, spoke of her experience.

As a woman in the senior management team at Virtual First, I always encourage our team to pursue any learning for their personal development. I think this is really important when supporting women in the tech industry, as it shows we believe in their ability and are invested in their growth.

However, a statistic that worries me is that men typically apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the requirements, but women only apply if they feel they meet 100% of them. Of the brilliant people that apply for the roles in Virtual First’s growing team, how many more brilliant women are we not getting the chance to interview? So, we are re-evaluating the way that we advertise roles. We are emphasising that the right attitude and a willingness to learn is as great an asset to our team as someone with specific qualifications. I like to think that I am an example of this as Head of Operations in a technology-based company, without a technology background!’

Our experience

For the most part, the females within our team have had a positive experience. However, this is not to say we can’t all do more. This is why we put so much importance on the constant upskilling of our team. We want everyone to know we believe in them equally, and there are equal opportunities to succeed.

Antonia, the IT Consultant at Virtual First, spoke about her experience of working in the technology sector.

‘For me, I have never faced any challenges working in tech. I have always had equal opportunities and every man I’ve worked with has treated me with respect. I have always been supported and encouraged to upskill and take exams. Despite this, the tech industry definitely has a larger male to female ratio. However, I believe this is more to do with lack of encouragement or personal interests rather than gender. When I applied for my apprenticeship, I had to go searching for one in the tech industry. These are not clearly promoted to young people to encourage them to pursue a career in IT.’

Based on Antonia’s perspective, as a business, we feel privileged about the large number of female team members we do have. However, we have also noticed a lack of opportunities for women who want a career in the technology sector. This is why we put an emphasis on team members constantly developing skills and knowledge; we know they may not have had the opportunity elsewhere. Moreover, we hope to offer apprenticeships and internships as the company continues to evolve. This is to support young people in our community, but also help them break into this sector.

What more can we do?

Debbie, our Customer Success Manager, has been with the business for 4 years and worked in tech for 20 years. Based on her experience, she said, ‘I definitely see a more male-dominated environment, especially when meeting with a larger group of people, but this doesn’t phase me at all. Kudos to our collab engineer Antonia, as she certainly carries the flag for women in tech! I love the knowledge that she passes through the team.’

Debbie is passionate about equality within the workplace and ensuring women have the same opportunity. This is because as a working mother in the tech industry, she knows a lot is expected from her. From her research, she found that 57% of women have felt burned out from the mandatory work-from-home caused by the pandemic. Interestingly, this burnout, from struggling to balance being both a working professional and a functioning parent, is leading to a mass exodus of women from the workforce. In 2020 alone, 1.2 million parents exited the workforce with staggering three-quarters of those people being women. Therefore, the pandemic has challenged everyone, but it seems to have hit working mothers in tech especially hard.

Empowering women

We spoke to all of the females within our business and were pleasantly surprised at their positive experiences. Lily, who is one of the younger members of the team said, ‘I can confidently say being a woman working in the industry, I’ve never come across any bad experiences! And if anything, it’s always been very exciting, enjoyable and positive. Being able to share your knowledge and teach others is such a good feeling. Almost empowering!‘.  Lily’s experience really encapsulates what we are looking to achieve. Empowering our employees to be the best they can be and providing a platform for them to thrive! Our goal is to support women in the technology sector in any way we can. We encourage all of our team to expand their skill-set, but this is even more key among the females in our team.

The gender gap in the technology sector is still of great concern. However, it is rewarding to see that most of the women in our team feel they are treated equally. We pledge to continue reflecting with our colleagues on what we can improve on. Hopefully, one business at a time, we can begin to reduce the size of the gap! And ensure there is gender equality for all.