Technology gender gap widens in the North

Skill and gender divides are becoming increasingly pronounced, research shows

The vast majority of Northern techies are men, according to an annual digital skill audit that reveals the North's technology sector gender divide is increasing.

Contrary to industry hopes of getting more women into IT, Manchester Digital's audit of 250 digital and technology businesses this week revealed that more than 70% of digital technology workers in the North are now men, up from 60% last year. Less than one in three staff members in the industry are women.

The divide only becomes more pronounced when looking at technical roles, where men make up almost 90% of the workforce; last year, this figure was 70%. Not only that, but more than half of all businesses said that their tech teams were exclusively male.

The audit found evidence not only of an increasing gender gap, but further confirmation of the skills gap as well. Northern businesses have struggled to fill developer positions for the fourth year in a row, and one third of businesses have reported difficulties in hiring devs. This has resulted in development jobs being among the most commonly outsourced.

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"The results of our annual skills audit once again reflect a thriving industry, but one that is seriously hampered by the ability to recruit at the necessary volume," said Manchester Digital managing director Katie Gallagher. "The sector's widening gender gap is a key concern for us, and something we will continue to address through our own initiatives and by working with relevant groups who champion minorities and diversity in the sector."

She added: "We believe the will is there [to address this], but government policy and lack of investment still hinder the implementation and scaling up of the solutions that will really deliver change."

Manchester Digital's audit follows a report from a non-partisan think tank, the Social Market Foundation, that concluded more women must study STEM subjects in order to fill a predicted skills gap of 142,000 job roles by 2023.

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