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Digital skills

Closing the gender diversity gap: women in technology

A young woman with curly hair sits on the floor in front of her sofa. She is working on a laptop.

The technology industry is facing a gender diversity issue. Recent research from TechNation found that just 26% of people working in the UK tech industry identify as female. According to research from PwC, this gender gap begins at school, for example with differences in the choices students make for their GCSEs and A Levels, and only widens as these young people grow into adults: just 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.

Creating employment pathways

Attempting to close this gap is the Click Start by TechUP Women programme: a one-of-a-kind digital training programme from Nominet, the Institute of Coding, Durham University, and Catch22. Developed by tech industry specialists, the programme supports women and non-binary people in the north and north east of England with their first steps into the technology industry.

In 2017, it was reported that 78% of students could not name a single famous woman working in tech – which is a problem because it means that women and non-binary people who aspire to work in the industry do not have role models to look up to. Click Start by TechUP women aims to address this by supplementing specialist training and career coaching with access to mentors who currently work within tech or digital roles.

Since the launch of the partnership with Catch22 earlier this year, almost 90% of participants have fully completed their technical training. Furthermore, thanks to the work that our career coaches do with participants on a one-to-one basis following their training, many participants have gone on to start new roles in tech-enabled jobs such as Communications Officer, Marketing Executive, and Audit Associate. Our support does not end with the programme however; Catch22 is also supporting many participants with additional qualifications, such as Level 4 apprenticeships in Javascript, coding, and marketing.

Celebrating participant journeys

In September, participants and staff from the programme came together for a weekend to recognise our members’ journeys over the last year. In addition to activity sessions and career fairs, the agenda was packed with guest speakers including Rituja Rao (TechUP Alumni) and Dr Shaid Mahmood MBE (Pro Vice Chancellor of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion at Durham University).

The weekend culminated in a graduation ceremony in Durham, which had an incredibly special atmosphere. As one attendee explained, “It was difficult not to feel like you were a part of something bigger than yourself,” going on to note that “It was great to hear from so many women about their experiences!”

Making a difference

Amber, a Click Start by TechUP Women participant on the 2023 programme is one such example of this.

Speaking about her experience, she said:

“I truly appreciate your continued support throughout my journey with Catch22’s Click Start by TechUP Women programme. Reflecting on my experience, I can confidently say that your guidance and encouragement have been invaluable to me. Your guidance has played a pivotal role in my journey with Catch22. Your kindness, support, and dedication have truly created a positive and enriching experience for me.

“Thank you for your unwavering commitment to helping women like me thrive in the tech industry.”

The impact of the programme is not only felt by the participants but also by staff working with them too. The Catch22 team and wider Click Start team have worked closely together, building and growing the programme over the past year towards the common goal of making a difference to our participants’ lives.

Reflecting on this, Catch22 Operations Manager, Kimberley Owen, said:

“TechUp Women is a very special and unique programme which has been designed to fully support females in reaching their career goals and open the door to new and exciting opportunities within the world of tech.

“It truly is unlike anything I have seen before, and I personally have been inspired by the journeys and feedback we have received so far. We have seen some great outcomes – people starting work, volunteering opportunities and further learning and training. Our career coaches will continue to work with all of the amazing TechUP Women learners to reach their full potential and progress on to many new and exciting adventures!”

Expanding our support

The ClickStart by TechUp Women programme has already made an incredible impact on the community and will be continuing with a new group of participants in 2024 when we will be expanding into new postcodes.

If you, or someone you are working with, would like to be part of this incredible programme then please get in touch with the Click Start by TechUP Women team today.