When addressing the broader issue of a gender imbalance in any industry, we must first look at how we can engage younger minds in the appropriate subjects while still in education, in order to place them in a position whereby they can go on to work in those roles in later life. The following post is written by Mike Anderiesz, one of our writers in Local & Regional Government, and looks at Microsoft Scotland’s commitment to the Scottish Business Pledge.
Towards a better, fairer industry - Microsoft Scotland commits to Scottish Business Pledge
One of the key challenges faced by Microsoft’s award-winning Get On programme is to inspire more women to pursue STEM subjects at college and beyond. This made for a fascinating and timely ‘Women in Technology’ event in Edinburgh last week, attended by students and MSPs, including, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills & Training, Roseanna Cunningham, MSP.
In partnership, Microsoft Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP), brought together key stakeholders and influencers to discuss what more can be done in Scotland to support and attract young women into Technology careers.
At the event, Ms Cunningham mixed with teachers and students from Lochfield Primary School and Gryffe High School, Renfrewshire, as well as Microsoft Modern Apprentices currently working with our customers and partners. There was also a ‘youth panel’, chaired by Richard Kerley, Chairman of CSPP, where the students discussed their future plan and why they were interested in technology.
The event culminated in Microsoft signing up to the Scottish Business Pledge – a wide ranging set of proposals, including a clear commitment from businesses to deliver a Balanced Workforce. The signing was hailed by Ms Cunningham as a significant statement of Microsoft’s continuing commitment to two equally important yet challenging objectives:
“I am particularly pleased that as part of its Pledge, Microsoft is committing to work with the Scottish Government and industry partners to develop better strategies to both attract women to technology and provide career structures which support retention and progression. It’s good for business and good for Scotland.”
Chris Forrest, Managing Director of Microsoft Scotland, welcomed the company’s commitment, which will also be backed by firm encouragement for Microsoft partners and customers to do likewise.
“Our involvement in today’s Women in Technology event sees us cementing our commitment to attracting and retaining more women to STEM careers; our joint 2020 action plan with the Scottish Government will help us reach more women and young people in Scotland.”
Although there are encouraging signs that old stereotypes are finally giving way to new attitudes and initiatives, other research indicates just how far there is to go.
For instance figures from the most recent Institute of Physics report shows that the number of female Physics students dropped to around 7,000 across the UK by the time they took A-Levels, leaving the percentage of female candidates resolutely under 20% for the last 20 years. Neither is this situation restricted to those at the start of their careers – a new survey released only this week by Tech London Advocates showed that 23% of technology firms employ no women at all in board-level positions.