'There's Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, but we need women tech role models,' says director
PUBLISHED: 13:41 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 12 February 2019
'Only one in 40 CVs come from a woman' says Claire Thorpe at SimpleClick in Ipswich.
Efforts to encourage young women to consider a career in technology should start during their school years, according to a director of a software business in Suffolk.
Claire Thorpe is consultancy director at SimpleClick in Ipswich - a company that employs a team of ten who build bespoke websites, software and apps.
But while the business is growing and taking on new people, very few applications come from women.
“We’ve been going for ten years and during that time we have been constantly recruiting for developers, and I would estimate only around one in 30 or 40 CVs comes from a woman,” said Ms Thorpe.
“We’ve never had an application from a woman for a senior developer role in ten years.
“There’s a lot factors as to why this is: it starts in school where computing, ICT and media are not viewed as subjects for girls, These gender stereotypes and peer pressure push them towards another subject.
“It’s so drilled into us when we are a young - when you think of a coder, people don’t think of a woman, they think of Bill Gates at Microsoft or Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. We need women role models.”
Ms Thorpe is not a techie herself and entered the sector through a marketing and project management route. She has recently become a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Ambassador, so she can go into schools to talk about the opportunities that exist working in computing and technology.
“It’s an opportunity to talk to girls about the work they could be doing and the type of money they could be earning,” she added.
“Hopefully, I can help this information filter down because part of the problem is that many teachers don’t know the full range of jobs that are available [in tech].”
Ms Thorpe said more employers need to offer flexible and part-time working to encourage women to apply for roles that will allow them to work around family commitments.
She also said she felt all the different coding languages used in software development might deter women from the sector.
She added: “Common languages include .Net, C#, Java, PHP – that could be part of the reason why women don’t apply. They think they need to know all these but we don’t expect that. If they know a few languages, they will have a lot of transferable skills.
“I remember reading a Hewlett Packard survey which said men will apply for a position if they satisfy 60% of the requirements on a job spec whereas women feel they must hit 100% before they apply. Maybe it has something to do with confidence or a greater awareness that they don’t want to waste someone’s time.”