A huge amount of attention has been paid to the issue of helping more women to access senior positions within the tech industry. But whilst high-profile success stories like those of Baroness Lane-Fox, Sara Murray, Kathryn Parsons and Baroness Shields offer plenty of inspiration to female aspiring entrepreneurs, how far have we actually come? Seemingly not far enough: research has revealed that 23% of companies within London’s tech community employ no women at board level.
According to a survey carried out by Tech London Advocates, the advocacy group that supports technology start-ups in securing investment, talent and growth, 59% of those surveyed believe London’s tech firms fail to reflect the diversity of the city. And whilst the latest figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) reveal that whilst 50% of Londoners are women, just 12% of those surveyed by Tech London Advocates said they worked at companies where the board reflected this.
But the problem seems to reach further than just the boardroom: 39% of respondents revealed that less than a fifth of senior management roles at their companies were held by women. Even more shocking, 15% said that their company employs no women at the senior management level at all. On a slightly more positive note, however, nearly half of those surveyed believe that London’s tech companies are more accessible to women than others around the world.
“For a sector identified with disruption and change, these figures are very disappointing,” commented Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates. “We live in a city with a global reputation for diversity yet our most exciting industry fails to reflect this in its most senior positions.”
Baroness Lane-Fox, the co-founder of lastminute.com and life peer, added: “There is a greater proportion of women in the House of Lords than British tech companies. We must accept the scale of this problem and work together to put women at the heart of the technology sector. Mobilising a currently unused resource will have huge benefits for the digital industry, the economy and UK PLC.”
So while it may feel like we’ve made some headway in levelling the playing field for women in tech over the last few years, this research shows just how far we have left to go.