Martha Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com, spoke about the need for more women in technology at the Wired conference last week. ‘I thought the tech world would be full of new voices and people. It hasn’t happened,’ she said. ‘The number of women in the sector is tiny. I don’t think that’s ok. It’s such a waste.’ She calls for the UK to set a global standard for equality in the sector.
Here are 7 reasons we need more women in technology right now:
1. Only 27% of people in the UK technology sector are women. This is lower than the percentage of women in parliament, which now stands at 29%. ‘I find that very, very strange,’ says Fox.
2. The number of women founding businesses is around 10%, and of the people developing new software, only 4% are women.
3. In the UK there is an urgent need for 600,000 new IT digital sector jobs. 800,000 women are currently unemployed, and Fox argues ‘we could join up a bit more of the chain.’ She adds, ‘Even if a fraction of them would like a role in the technology sector, it’s got to be worth giving it a shot.’
4. Only 30% of Google’s global staff is female, with only 17% holding technology-specific jobs.
5. At Amazon, only 18 of its 120 senior managers are female, and none of them report directly to the chief executive Jeff Bezos.
6. 17% of computer science students in the UK are female. In the US, the figure stands at 18%.
7. Companies with founding teams that include both men and women do significantly better in terms of profit. Fox adds, ‘If we don’t empower women digitally then I don’t believe we’re going to have as competitive an economy as we could.’
Words: Radhika Seth