The UK should maintain or increase funding for cutting-edge university research in fields like artificial intelligence, big data and super-computing to boost numbers of young women moving into technology and science-based careers, Odgers Berndtson said.
Mike Drew, head of the UK technology practice at Odgers Berndtson, said the government should recognise that university research could help redress a growing gender imbalance across the tech sector because research attracts broadly equal numbers of men and women who are later in high demand from employers.
Women are currently seriously under-represented in the technology sector, notably in front-line and senior roles, and twice as likely as men to quit the industry altogether. With the technology sector out-stripping growth across the rest of the economy, having attracted US$28 billion investment since 2011, this lack of gender diversity could become even more pronounced.
“If university research in areas with great commercial potential like artificial intelligence helps to attract the brightest and the best brains to the UK, and roughly half of those are female, this creates an opportunity to take a global lead in high-growth industries and at the same time build a more diverse and representative workforce,” Mike Drew said.“When there needs to be a much greater encouragement for young women, to study STEM subjects and follow these disciplines into science and technology careers, it surely makes sense to look more closely at the role of universities,” he added.
These comments coincide with International Women’s Day and follow a submission on the talent crisis in technology from Odgers Berndtson to MPs on the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into UK innovation post-Brexit.
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