Inspire Inclusion: International Women's Day 2024

Collective progress in the technology industry

2024-03-08 10:49:22


To mark International Women’s Day 2024, software developers Amy and Matt discuss the importance of education and awareness to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry, in line with this year’s theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’

Throughout history, women have been pioneers in technology. During World War II, the epicenter of the British codebreaking operation was at Bletchley Park where 75% of staff were women. Ada Lovelace is often credited as being the first person in history to create a computer program.

However, women still encounter hurdles when pursuing tech careers, including gender bias, underrepresentation and a gender pay gap surpassing the national average by 3.4%. In 2018, women made up just 16% of the IT workforce, a 30-year low compared with a peak in 1991 at 20.9%.

Nevertheless, there are signs of change. In 2022, that percentage had recovered to 20%. According to The Chartered Institute for IT, the number of young women taking on computer science degrees is growing faster than for any other UK university subject, as evidenced by a 23% growth in accepted applications from women year on year since 2019. Girls are increasingly choosing computing as an A-level subject and they have higher percentages of top grades compared to their male peers.

Showing that there are numerous diverse opportunities within the field is crucial to create a larger interest in the sector early on. Working in tech doesn't necessarily mean becoming a software developer; there are countless other paths available to explore covering a very broad spectrum of skillsets and capabilities. By showcasing different examples and introducing girls to role models who represent a part of themselves, they have the information they need when thinking about future career possibilities.

Cortex is a small organisation which tries to play its part in inspiring the next generation of geeks-to-be wherever possible. Whether that is through events, working with local educational establishments, offering work experience or running code clubs. We also launched a paid full-time internship, in efforts to diversify entry routes into the sector.

Earlier in 2024, in partnership with Girlguiding, we organised an event designed to excite and educate girls about the various paths available in the industry. Codenamed “Girls Who Innovate Hub”, a day of events and tech challenges was supplemented with talks from inspirational female leaders in Guernsey’s tech industry to mark the 9th Annual International Day of Women and Girls in STEM.

A diverse workplace positively influences innovation and benefits everyone. Research has pointed out that employees of firms with 2-D diversity are 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. As more women enter the field, we can expect to see a rise in products and services that are more inclusive of society’s needs, which is crucial to prevent biased technology which is becoming ever more relevant in the era of artificial general intelligence.

The sector not only needs but is positively impacted by diverse perspectives that approach problems in new and innovative ways. At Cortex we are passionate about tech and we simply like to geek out with people of all ages, backgrounds, genders and ethnicities.

After all, the technology we rely on can only be as innovative and inclusive as the people creating it.