Stressed Tech Industry Also Has Gender Issues

Digital marketing is driven by tech and so it's good to see BIMA surveying people in the tech industry to find out how they are faring. The picture is that there is a lot more to do to improve diversity and to promote well being. However, I'd suggest that one of the biggest issues impacting the industry is not covered by the survey.

Let's start off with a pretty damning statistic from PwC. Just 5% of senior positions in the tech industry are held by women, and only 15% of people who work in STEM subject professions are female. In fact, PwC has tracked this back to the career route into IT being curtailed after school.

Although nearly two in three female students take STEM subjects at school and nearly a third take a STEM subject at degree level, compared to more than a half of men, the big dropoff happens when considering jobs. A mere 3% of young women in Britain see leaving school for a career in tech as a their preferred choice, compared to 15% for young men. 

In other words, young men are five times more likely to be leaving university or college with a career in IT and tech as their preferred choice. 

This is not to take anything away from BIMA's important work in looking at how people in the industry provide feedback on their experience. 

The main takeaway is that two in three feel stressed and just over half report they have suffered from anxiety or depression at some stage in their career. More than a third of women reported that they feel their gender has been used to discriminate against them, which is slightly less than people from Asian or Afro-Caribbean backgrounds who fear their ethnicity has held them back.

Again, though, we are soon led to a telltale stat. Around a third of parents do not return to the industry once they have had children. 

In addition to the stats around people feeling stressed and discriminated against because of gender or colour, this is a standout for me. Obviously, discrimination has no place in modern life, in whatever shape it takes, but if one thinks practically, there is an elephant in the room with the IT industry. 

Women are underrepresented to a ridiculous level throughout each echelon, and this only gets worse when women are at the age to start families and then get a job at the top -- one in three are deciding not to go back to the stress-inducing industry where they feel discriminated against. 

We have here the self-fulfilling cycle of fewer people coming in, not being given the flexibility and understanding they need to progress and then deciding to stay at home or seek a less stressful career. 

Everything in today's BIMA report should be studied and acted on, because this is clearly an industry where people are reporting high levels of stress and concern over discrimination. However, there is the elephant in the room that this industry faces a major challenge to attract more women and retain them.  

* After this article was published, BIMA kindly forwarded some figures that were not in today's report which show a near even split between men and women in the tech industries and that 40% of leadership roles are filled by women. Clearly, there's a massive gulf between the organisation's figures and those produced by PwC.

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