UK staffing firm Frank Recruitment Group has released a new report on gender equity in the tech space.

The report, titled Tech’s Leading Women: Nine Lessons on Gender, Culture and Building an Inclusive Workforce, provides actionable lessons for businesses on supporting women in the tech industry, removing barriers to progression, and closing the sector’s burgeoning skills gap.

The report comes at a crucial juncture for gender equity in tech, as the UK takes its first steps toward recovery following a pandemic that has had a disproportionate economic impact on women. Without intervention, the number of women working in tech looks likely to fall even further, having remained stagnant at around 20% for the past decade.

Though efforts are being made to bring more women into the field, the issue is not only about sourcing new talent, but about retaining it. Data from Accenture shows that roughly half of female tech professionals leave the industry by the age of 35—the average for women across all industries is just 20%. Retaining female tech talent and enabling women to progress into leadership roles is a vital consideration, and one of the key themes addressed in the report.

Other topics covered include the influence of the CEO in nurturing inclusivity, the re-evaluation of typical routes into tech, succession planning, mentorship and allyship, and flexible work.

Frank Recruitment Group conducted in-depth interviews with 36 women in senior roles across the UK tech industry. These women are leading IT teams at some of the UK’s best-known establishments, from leading financial organisations and tech giants to major charities and cultural institutes.

Interviewees include:

  • Sarah Greasley, CTO, Direct Line Group
  • Cheryl Newton, CIO, MetroBank
  • Alison Davis, CIO, The Natural History Museum
  • Sheridan Ash, MBE, Women in Technology lead at PWC and co-founder of Tech She Can
  • Tiffany Hall, CIO, Cancer Research UK
  • Wendy Spencer, Partner Architect Manager, Microsoft
  • Amanda Gosling, VP, Capgemini Invent

The report also features a foreword from Dame Stephanie Shirley, CH. A titan in the UK tech industry, Dame Stephanie founded Xansa PLC, one of the UK’s first software companies, and is renowned for employing an all-woman workforce and pioneering remote working back in the 1960s. Dame Stephanie is no stranger to the challenges of being a woman in tech, having famously adopted the first name ‘Steve’ to skirt the misogyny of male investors early in her career. She was awarded the prestigious Companion of Honour title in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

“This white paper from Frank Recruitment Group is rich with case studies, research, and commentary from female leaders in IT,” said Dame Stephanie.

“These are doubly relevant to gender, culture and change in 2021 when women have been disproportionately affected by furloughs, redundancies, and increased childcare demands. Business is facing a rate of technological change that has never been so fast nor will ever be as slow again. Business leaders should recognise that there is no end point, and should study this report to benefit from its key lessons.”

Frank Recruitment Group, founded in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2006 with just three staff members, now employs almost 2,000 people worldwide and is part of Tenth Revolution Group, the global leader in cloud talent solutions.

In 2020, the firm launched its specialist Women in Tech division, dedicated exclusively to supporting female tech professionals, and helping businesses foster an inclusive culture where all employees can thrive. This new report is part of the company’s latest wave of gender inclusion initiatives.

“The issue of gender equity in technology has never been more important,” said Frank Recruitment Group President Zoë Morris.

“With the need for tech professionals exploding, and a labour market unable to meet demand, businesses everywhere are investing significant time and resource into attracting more women into the industry.

“But despite their efforts, the numbers remain small. Something is clearly going wrong, and that’s why we created this report. We wanted to hear directly from women who’ve succeeded in developing a career in tech leadership to get an insider’s take on what we can do to shift the dial on gender imbalance.”

“The insights and advice in this report are particularly invaluable now, as we adapt to our new circumstances and consider what the future of work will look like. We have an opportunity now to create real change, and I hope that this white paper will help organisations to focus their efforts and create more effective D&I policies.”

The report can be downloaded for free here.