Thousands of women of color disappeared from the IT industry, the report said

The professional IT sector is missing more than 20,000 women of color, according to a new report on representation in the sector.

Research by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Coding Black Females found that while women of color make up 1.8% of the UK workforce, they make up only 0.7% of IT professionals, a shortage of about 20,000.

A survey conducted as part of the Industry Black Women Study also found that 67% of respondents said they believe they face more barriers to entering the industry than others, and 21% said they believe they current diversity and inclusion policies are having a negative effect on their ability to progress.

According to the study, women of color see their progress blocked by problems such as a lack of flexible job opportunities and career development support and a toxic culture of the “tech brother” within some organizations.

The research found that the proportion of all women in IT has increased only slightly in recent years, from 17% of the industry workforce in 2017 to 21% in 2021.

But the overall representation of ethnic minorities is actually higher among IT workers than within the broader workforce, with the study finding that this was largely due to the high percentage of Indian-born technology professionals.

Industry leaders have warned that technology that can serve everyone will only be possible if the industry that builds these systems is truly representative.

Charlene Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of Coding Black Females and BCS Board Member, said: “High-risk fields such as data science and cybersecurity are in dire need of many more technologists from a wide range of backgrounds, which everyone sees information technology as an ethical and ambitious career choice.

“While there are some truly inclusive IT organizations, our research with BCS found that successful women of color – and women in general – who work in the tech sector are often where they are despite the prevailing culture and limited flexibility in their work. their job options and the lack of inclusive work culture.

“The fact is that a diverse technology profession produces much better products and results, for example in teams working on AI.

“We need senior leaders who match the large number of women of color who are currently appearing in technology and engineering advertisements, with genuine opportunities to progress into rewarding jobs.”

Rashik Palmer, managing director of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said, “We will only be able to build the systems that everyone needs if the diversity of humanity is represented in the project teams that design and build those systems.

“The gender gap in IT is showing signs of narrowing and groups like BCS Women have been working for many years to shift the quadrant.

“Black women’s coding is inspiring black women into digital careers, but our joint report shows that the tech profession still has a profound job to do to become truly inclusive, trustworthy and ready to solve the world’s greatest challenges.” .

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