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LEEDS LEADING THE WAY IN CLOSING THE GENDER GAP IN DIGITAL!

Wednesday 8th March 2017
Today is International Women's Day!



We’ve spoken a lot in the past about how there is a significant gender gap being experienced in the digital sector with men out-numbering women.

Having read a lot of articles today about inspiring women, it’s refreshing to see the digital gender gap being addressed so frequently.

Leeds’ power women!

We came across an article by Coral Grainger of  Capital Relations on Linkedin which highlighted research results surrounding ‘Inspiring women in the UK’. Results for Leeds showed how there are currently over 20 women in Leeds who are leading businesses with more than 1 million pounds worth of revenue. 13 of these women lead businesses are experiencing growth by 20% and six are experiencing growth at an impressive 50%. What was also interesting to see when scanning through these findings were the fact that many of these companies pioneered by women are technology-focused.

Leeds has taken on a series of digital initiatives in recent years (Read more here), with  Leeds Digital Jobs fair working to bridge the skills gap, the opening of the Google Digital Garage at Leeds Dock, and also Leeds being recognised as a prime location for digital start ups in the UK, with many southern start-ups choosing Leeds as a base for their business.

These initiatives along with everything else we’ve mentioned got us thinking, could Leeds really lead the way in closing the digital gender gap in the UK?

Well we think Yes! And we’re not alone.

In an article by the Yorkshire Post it was highlighted how Martha Lane Fox (Cross-Head Peer at the House of Lords and Founder of doteveryone.org.uk, an organisation focusing on the building of digital skills in the UK) believes Leeds could definitely be the driving force in getting more women into tech in the UK. 

Helen Woolastan (Chief Executive of the WISE campaign which aims to get one million more women into the UK’s science, technology, engineering and maths workforce) says that that 30 per cent of Sky’s new recruits in Leeds are female, which is nearly double the demographic in the Information and Communications Technology sector’s 17 per cent. “We want to make sure the message gets out to women, girls, families and teachers there are some real opportunities here in Leeds that pay good money and have good prospects.”

The digital skills gap is being felt in a big way in Leeds. The city is home to 1,350 digital companies with over 10,000 employees working in the sector. There are estimated to be 640 vacancies for mid-level tech jobs in the city. 

You do the maths: the jobs are there, but the people with the right skills are not.

It seems many Leeds technology companies are recognising this, and also the benefits of driving a diverse workforce. When  Leeds Digital Job Fair last year, an event which was the first of its kind in Leeds and saw over a thousand young people attend to find out more about future careers in technology.

When speaking to Chris Moran (Speaker at Leeds Digital Job Fair), he stated ‘Typically software development has been a “hard core” discipline dominated by men. The majority of people I spoke to in this space were young women which I feel is a positive move for the industry as a whole.’

Leeds has also incorporated a ‘digital skills action plan’ aiming to improve links between employers and education providers. This includes a focus on the extension of code clubs in Leeds primary schools which will be key in getting more girls into tech from a young age.

Recently Ahead Partnership held #GIRLTECHLCR, this event involved female students from 14 schools across Leeds and the surrounding areas to help them find out more about careers in digital and tech in their region. The focus of the event was to give key stage 3 students an opportunity to meet female role models in digital and tech to help break down the common gender stereotypes in our region's fastest growing industry. Students were exhibited by some of the tech leaders in the city including Jet2.com and O2, where they spoke about an array of different hot topics surrounding the industry from fin-tech to big data.

With Leeds seemingly being supportive of future female tech talent and championing equal digital opportunities, it’s only a matter of time before we see even more female techies in our city and others who follow suit!

What are your thoughts? Is Leeds going to be a key game changer when it comes to closing the digital gender gap in the UK? We’d love your thoughts!

Tweet us @AmsourceTech or leave your comments below.

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