With women still so woefully underrepresented in the IT sector, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, is now working in partnership with educators, industry and government to boost female participation in technology and engineering.
Gillian Anrold, who chairs BCS Women, explained to TechRadar Pro why this is important and why we need more females getting on board from a young age.
TechRadar Pro: Why is it important to encourage more women and girls into IT and the STEM subjects?
Gillian Arnold: Boosting skills in technology and engineering is essential if the UK is to truly thrive in the global economy. We need to make the most of all of our talents to give the businesses of tomorrow the workforce they need to compete.
Currently one half of the population is significantly under-represented. We need to get more women to make the choices that can lead to these career options. By doing this we will be substantially deepening the talent pool available to employers.
TRP: Why has BSC joined the pledge?
GA: It's vital that we show more young women what an amazing career IT offers. IT is at the heart of almost every aspect of our society and we need women to be part of the creation of the next generation of IT professionals.
The lack of women entering the profession is a very real threat for the industry and for UK plc. We need to support UK employers who struggle to find IT skills for their organisations and we believe that ignoring 50% of the potential workforce because of their gender is a real issue.
We need to reach out to more young women to encourage them to see what an amazing career IT offers and to build the pipeline of skills in the industry.
TRP: What activities does BCS do to support and encourage women into IT?
GA: BCS has an active women's specialist group, BCSWomen, that mentors and encourages girls/women to enter IT as a career and provides networking opportunities and support for all BCS professional women working in IT around the world.
The Institute also runs the Karen Spärck Jones lecture with IBM - an annual event that honours women in computing research. This lecture series builds on BCS activities to celebrate, inform and support women engaged in computing.
These activities include the annual London Hopper, providing networking opportunities for early career researchers, and the Lovelace Colloquium, for women undergraduates in computing and related subjects.
The Institute is currently running a month long Women in IT campaign profiling influential women in IT with the aim of encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
The campaign features some of the most influential women in IT on the Institute's website each day in order to demonstrate the variety of roles that are open to young women.
TRP: What percentage of the IT profession do women make up?
GA: Women are in the minority in the IT profession, making up just 15-18% of the workforce. This is a real issue. Girls and women are users and buyers of technology, they also need to realise that they can be part of the profession that creates the technology they use.
TRP: What contribution to IT do women make?
GA: We only need to look around us today to see where women are in IT, they are making a fantastic contribution to the profession. With a diverse mix in the working population the UK IT sector can capitalise on the promise of additional profits and innovation that diversity can bring.
Many digital roles tend to require creative, collaborative skills, logical thinking, problem solving, being able to understand technical concepts and communicate them.