Women in the tech sector, both globally and in the UK, feel a lack of training opportunities is acting as a barrier for more diversity in the industry.
Research by Skillsoft found that 32% of women worldwide believe a lack of training it one of the biggest challenges they had faced throughout their tech careers, while 38% of women in the UK said they were worried about the lack of training opportunities in the sector.
Potoula Chresomales, senior vice-president of product management at Skillsoft, said: “Organisations around the globe are looking for ways to address their skills gaps, and in many cases, the answer lies within via their existing workforce.
“Women make up less than 40% of the global workforce, and for that number to increase, female employees must be empowered with continuous training, professional development and career advancement, as well as equal pay.”
There are a number of reasons young girls and women choose to not go into tech careers, including a perception that technology roles are not for them, a lack of inclusion in the workplace, and a lack of accessible or visible role models to aspire towards.
A lack of skills training was not the only barrier Skillsoft found, with a quarter of women in the global tech sector saying that a lack of diversity had acted as an obstacle and 23% saying a lack of inclusion had affected their careers.
Just under 20% also said harassment is a challenge they have faced during their tech careers.
Women in the UK said they were worried by a lack of work-life balance, as well as a lack of equal pay – 32% of UK respondents said that a lack of equal pay is one the biggest barriers they face in their role. In 2016, a study found that women in the UK technology industry make on average 9% less than their male counterparts.
Almost 60% of respondents asked in the UK said that training and professional development are an important part of their roles and careers, but only 42% of women globally said they are offered these opportunities by their employers.
And women definitely want to learn, with subjects such as cyber security, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning among the most desired skills for women in the sector, alongside skills in leadership and management.
Out of those in the UK who have managed to gain certifications in subjects such as the above, half said having these qualifications had helped them to gain more responsibility at work, 36% said it helped them to gain a higher salary and 34% said it helped them to get a promotion.
Almost 60% of the women asked in the UK said more women might be encouraged to pursue jobs in the tech sector if firms offered more opportunities for professional development or training, as well as other benefits such childcare.
Globally, just under 45% of women in the tech sector said making career coaching, mentoring and counselling available could make women more likely to pursue a role with a tech employer, and 41% said creating a more “equitable work culture” would tempt more women into the sector.
But despite a plethora of initiatives aimed at bridging the gender diversity gap in the tech industry, the number of women in technical roles has remained at about 17% in the UK for the past five years.
In the UK, Skillsoft found that 72% of women in the technology industry said men outnumber them in the workplace, 10% said men outnumber women more than four to one, 30% said men outnumber women in their workplace by two to one, and only 16% of those asked said women outnumber men.
Global figures from Skillsoft also found that women in senior leadership positions in tech had worked longer to get there than men, with most men at the top of businesses having an average of 15 to 20 years of experience, as opposed to women who have around 26 years of experience in the sector.