The research — which was conducted by Mortar Research for Samsung, and posed a series of questions to over 2,000 women aged 18 to 25 — discovered that two thirds (67%) of the respondents are considering a career in tech.
However, nearly all of them (91%) say there are barriers to even considering a role in the industry.
Whether it’s not understanding enough about the sector (44%), not having the right tech qualifications (30%), or fear of it being too challenging (23%), women are seeing alternative routes such as careers in HR, marketing and finance as their way ‘in’ to working in the industry (38%).
Starting in schools
The research makes clear that Gen-Z women are intrigued by tech, with respondents describing the sector as “exciting” (52%), “innovative” (55%), and “cool” (41%), compared to just 5% who said it was “boring.” Additionally, artificial intelligence and machine learning prove compelling, with 36% finding advancements in this area exciting.
That said, the school system appears to be failing to inspire and advocate for women to enter the tech workforce. One third of respondents (34%) said they didn’t learn enough about tech at school, and 22% even reported that they were steered away from subjects relevant to the tech industry at school or college by their teachers.
On this, Annika Bizon, Marketing and Omnichannel Director at Samsung UK, said: “Technological innovation is front and centre and instead of being put off, or tuning out of the conversation, Gen-Z are actively engaged in these developments.
“With growing excitement, the next question is how can employers and educators break down the barriers to entry and facilitate action to close the gap between intention and action?
“We must be the ones to rally together, to enable the next generation to take practical steps to pursue meaningful careers.”
Role models are essential
According to a third (33%) of respondents, having more women in the industry would make tech a more compelling career choice.
The lack of female tech role models is underscored by how few people could name a prominent woman in tech — a stat that Tanya Weller, Marketing Director at Samsung UK and Ireland, says is getting worse.
“In 2017, a [PwC UK] report revealed that 78% of UK students couldn’t name a famous woman working in technology. Today, this figure is worse, with 92% of 18–25-year-old women saying that they cannot name a famous woman in the industry versus 46% that can name a prominent man in tech.
“There is clearly appetite from young women to pursue a career in tech, but we all need to step up to help these women realise their ambitions – it’s the combined effort of schools, universities, and workplaces to actively break down barriers, and support and inspire the next generation of talent into a thriving career in tech.
“We need robust role models that the young women of tomorrow can look up to as a source of inspiration, to stop and think ‘I can do that too’. Or perhaps even, ‘I can do better.’”
Greater female representation is key
Some of the study’s respondents (12%) incorrectly thought that This Morning TV presenter Alison Hammond was a woman in tech. This was followed by current Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (9%), Charli Emma Aitchison – aka the musician Charlie XCX (8%), and British tennis player Emma Raducanu (6%) as prominent women in the sector.
Only 14% correctly identified Ada Lovelace as a woman in tech. This is despite the fact Ada Lovelace is largely known as the first computer programmer — and even has an awareness day dedicated to her, “Ada Lovelace Day,” which is held every October.
This points to the need for greater female representation in the sector.
Sharmadean Reid, founder of The Stack World — a network for women leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs — commented: “We all have a place in tech. Working in tech isn’t just about being able to code – it’s about so much more. Tech is home to diverse people with eclectic experiences in design, computer science, linguistics, humanities, history and much more.
“Paths are being formed, but what’s clear is that we need more visible female role models in the industry that inspire the next generation to take those life-defining first steps.”
In an attempt to tackle some of these challenges, there have been numerous programmes delivered in Scotland in recent months that have aimed to get more female students interested in tech, as well as getting more women inside the industry.
These initiatives include hackathons organised by DressCode at the University of Glasgow, STEM workshops delivered by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Caledonian Club, and Women Do Cyber’s upskilling and reskilling programme.