Caitlin Moran, Girls in Coding & the Future Workforce
I used to be a bit of a blogger, and enjoyed nothing more, than regularly posting a good cathartic piece of my mind at the industry blog; Digitalrecruiting.co.uk. But I stopped contributing about three years ago. Having moved media/solution side, I felt my thoughts wouldn't be viewed as being as objective as perhaps they once were. Also, maybe nothing got me fired up enough to bother putting my tuppence worth out there in the blogosphere. Yet here I am today, fired up and ready to go!
So, What Happened?
In July last year I went to see Caitlin Moran launch her new book, How to Build a Girl in Union Chapel, Islington, London. I was pretty excited; I'm a big fan of Caitlin and I was also about to go on holiday to France, so was looking forward to a bit of downtime and a break from all things work.
That night however, rather un-expectantly, Caitlin said something that got me thinking all about work!
She said something that was so fundamentally important to the future of the workforce that I immediately thought to myself, 'something has to be done about this' and Monster and its mission of helping folks 'Find Better' in their career and its strength in connecting tech talent, has some role to play here...
This is what Caitlin said:
"If 90% of coders are men, developing and owning the language of the future, women won't be part of the conversation"
This hit me like a bolt of lightning - well perhaps a slight exaggeration - but it did really hit home. I was worried. Whilst there is still some way to go in terms of true equality, whether it's in equal pay or the low percentage of women in senior management positions, females have made some significant strides in the UK workforce in recent years. This has been to the benefit of all concerned with reports showing that companies who have more women on their boards and in their senior management teams aren't just 'doing the right thing', they are generating greater profit. The prospect of this gender equality progress unravelling, due to females not being sufficiently skilled in tech to converse in a world where all things tech prevail, is hugely concerning. It's also the wrong direction to go in for a stronger, fairer and more successful society. As Hilary Clinton stated last month at a conference for women in Silicon Valley; "We’re going backward in a field that is supposed to be all about moving forward".
Girls in Coding and the Future Workforce
Intuitively, the solution seems pretty clear; we need to show girls that a career in coding can be hugely interesting, rewarding and that coding and technology are fundamental skillsets required for any industry or role they hope to pursue in the future. Additionally we need to enable girls to learn these skills and also up-skill females (and males) who are currently in the workforce. So, by no means an easy or simple task. This is further compounded by worrying retention rates of women current working in tech, who are leaving the industry due to a chauvinist culture and female-unfriendly working environment. If we are building a pipeline of female tech talent but it goes into an environment that's not accessible or sustainable, we have a 'leaky bucket' effect, which does not solve issues in the long-term.
The good news is that contrary to popular opinion, girls and women actually quite like technology with recent reports showing that there are now more women than men gamers in the UK. Having spoken to numerous women in and around the area of technology and 'women in tech' in last month or so, there is some fantastic work and initiatives already being done it this area. There is such an appetite and passion to help girls and women get into technology that the future is incredibly promising.
Next Steps – Working Together
Our goal at Monster is to raise awareness of the issue amongst talent acquisition and HR professionals and to show both current and future candidates the importance of coding skills in current and future careers.
Our first step towards raising awareness is to host a Monster #TechTalent event on April the 16th in central London:
'Girls in Coding: How they will be critical to female roles in the future workforce.'
The event will consist of a series of interactive panel discussions with leading figures in this space discussing issues around the long, mid and shorter term areas and possible solutions to help girls get into coding and women into technology. The event is open to all parties, and of course both genders, as by working together and collaboratively we believe we can start to make a difference.
This is just the start in a series of initiatives Monster will be running in this area so watch this space.