New London business taskforce looks to support women in tech

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With women highly underrepresented in digital industries, the City of London Corporation has launched a taskforce to help tackle the issue.

The Women Pivoting to Digital Taskforce has the support of businesses such as IBM, Accenture, and Salesforce, and will work with government, third sector, and industry groups to help women from non-technical backgrounds shift into digital roles in AI, data, cyber security, and IT.

Sheridan Ash, founder and chief executive at Tech She Can and co-chair of the taskforce, said the initiative aims to bridge long-standing gaps in the technology workforce.

"There is an urgent need to boost growth and productivity in the UK by addressing our skills gap in technology. Increasing the skills and diversity of the technology workforce is fundamental to the UK becoming more competitive and innovative," she said.

"The UK’s technology skills gap could be solved today if we had the same number of women as men working in technology jobs and careers. I very much look forward to working with everyone in this initiative, and to tackling the skills gap by increasing diversity in technology careers."

The taskforce aims to support employers in financial and professional services, as well as the technology sector, to upskill workers while equipping organisations with the tools to hire women from non-technical backgrounds.

It will run for two years, and will focus on supporting women with five years' or more workforce experience in a non-related field to transition into a digital career.

Taskforce members include 65 different subject matter experts from across the UK's different regions with an interest in digital and diversity, who will be responsible for delivering workstream outputs.

"As part of the City of London Corporation's Woman Pivoting to Digital Taskforce, we will focus on equipping women from non-technical backgrounds with the essential skills to build digital careers," said Laura Faulkner, director of business services at Nationwide.

"Through cross-industry collaboration, our goal is to build a robust pipeline of female talent, surfacing and supporting opportunities for more women to move into digital roles."

According to the Alan Turing Institute, fewer than 25% of employees working in the AI and data science fields are women, while women are more likely to be in lower-wage and less technical roles than men.

Meanwhile, if things don't change, there will be just one woman for every 128 tech roles by 2025, according to the Tech Talent Charter and Code First Girl’s Diversity in Tech report.

"With women consistently underrepresented in specialist digital roles across sectors, our mission is clear: to leverage their diverse skills for innovation," said Karen Blake, co-chief executive of Tech Talent Charter.

"As we embark on this two-year initiative, we're committed to bridging the gender gap and empowering women to thrive in the digital age."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.