When Mike Butcher of TechCrunch asked me to participate in a panel on ‘Balancing Tech Culture’ at the Geek n’ Rolla , I thought I’d better find something to talk about. Enter ‘Getting women in start-ups’ research survey targeted at the tech and start-up industry. The results were predictable. They usually are on a 200 person sample. I am setting your expectations – it was not a scientific piece of research.
Women in tech are the minority in the UK. 33 per cent of women in start-ups said they had none or only one female colleague on staff, and 65 per cent admitted women were underrepresented in their firms. Worryingly, the majority of women in tech are in the low impact positions such as office management and manning the reception. Only one-third were employed in software or tech development.
Our panel tried to get to the bottom of why this number is so low and how we could fix it. It was a heated debate (you can see the transcript here), led by Cate Sevilla of BitchBuzz with Sophie Cox of Worldeka, Leisa Reichelt of Disambiguity and Nacera Benfedda of Viadeo, with a brief appearance from Milo Yiannopoulos of The Daily Telegraph.
The answer: one hour is not enough to sort this out. There was no general consensus. We agreed that there may be several reasons behind the current situation including gender inequality, culture, lack of female role models and female VCs.
Personally, and that’s possibly because I spent five years doing sociological research on similar subjects, I believe it’s a cultural issue. It’s true, tech is a women-friendly industry – we are liberal and offer flexible working hours. Yet, I don’t see young girls queuing up to be the next Gina Bianchini. Can we have ‘balance in tech’? Sure, perhaps in 50 years, just when we are hitting the equal numbers of men and women in the government. Once again, it will all come down to education.