According to a recent study, nearly three million people, or nine per cent of the UK workforce, are employed in the UK tech industry, but just 26% of those in the tech workforce are women*. Not surprisingly, many tech leaders are now mindful of age-old problems such as the gender gap and the lack of women in the tech talent pipeline. Overall, organisations and individuals striving for gender equality in tech need to rethink systems and challenge assumptions to cultivate an organisational culture capable of harnessing the power of all genders in the industry. But getting there takes work. Everyone — from senior leaders to those looking to provide educational tech opportunities for girls at an early age — has a role to play.
Here, Justin Nihiser, CEO of Code Ninjas, discusses the importance of enforcing gender equity at every level of a business and introducing positive coding experiences to girls that ensure that entering the tech industry becomes a desirable option for all.
This month marks International Women’s Day, a focal point in the women’s rights movement that brings attention to issues such as gender equality whilst celebrating the achievements of women across the world. This year’s theme is embracing gender equity, highlighting the benefits for businesses, employees and society as a whole when we all champion diversity and inclusion.
At Code Ninjas, our focus on gender equity is beyond just meeting a quota. By women filling many roles here at Code Ninjas, be it operations in head office, working in our amazing team of Senseis, or as part of our global franchise network, they not only inspire us but are also role models for the girls who take part in our classes. Thanks to these incredible women at the top, we are paving the way for the women leaders of tomorrow. We believe that the route to a more gender-equitable industry is a strong foundation and early adoption of technology that will set the path for the future. With the help of our female franchisees, Senseis and leaders at head office, it is possible to put girls on academic trajectories that increase engagement in computer science and engineering through positive STEM experiences for girls.
To challenge misconceptions and encourage highly skilled girls to start a career in computing, we must ensure that it is a desirable and welcoming environment from an early age. The greater the range of children we can excite about coding now, the greater the diversity of thinking and problem-solving we will see in the next generation of STEM leaders – bringing new and surprising solutions to the problems we face in the future. We at Code Ninjas celebrate the constant encouragement from the Senseis at Code Ninjas locations that enables young girls to be inspired as they explore the field, helping to break the gender divide that has been present in the industry. Providing kids with approachable female role models at the studios and camps is yet another reason why Code Ninjas is engineering a better future for the next generation of female computer scientists.
I believe that having more women working in diverse tech roles is vital to our industry’s ongoing growth and evolution. Since the day coding came into existence, it has been underscored by the importance of the roles that women play, from innovation to invention. Whilst I am not suggesting that the introduction of Code Ninjas alone will suddenly see a generation of girls streaming into the industry, programmes like ours developed and taught by inspirational women across our network will improve the chances that girls will be just as likely to choose tech as their male counterparts. By providing opportunities to women and girls at every level of our business, whether it is girls who have a desire to explore their creativity through tech, or more women in management and senior positions, we are affirming our support of moving the industry forward into a more gender-equitable position.
* Tech Nation, 2022