Female graduates can’t see their future in the tech industry

A survey of over 1,000 university students conducted by KPMG and independent market research company High Fliers has uncovered discrepancies when it comes to the career confidence of male versus female graduates regarding careers in technology.

Despite being as equally competent as young men when assessed on digital skills including data manipulation and social media, a mere 37 percent of young women are confident they have the tech skills required by today’s employers, compared with 57 percent of young men.

Adding to the concern raised by these stats is the fact that 73% of females have not considered a graduate job in technology. It seems the existence of female technical talent does not align with career aspirations in this sector. This lack of self-confidence in female graduates has also been considered here at Milkround. Our research found that female graduates’ salary expectations are much lower than their male counterparts. KPMG’s survey suggests that there could be a correlation between undervaluing personal skills and low salary expectations.

Commenting on the findings Aidan Brennan, KPMG’s head of digital transformation said:

“The issue here isn’t around competency – far from it – but rather how businesses understand the underlying capability of an individual and how to unlock it. I think this research highlights the work that needs to be done to show the next generation that when it comes to a career in tech, gender isn’t part of the equation.

Competition for jobs is tough, and we know that female job seekers can be less likely to apply for a role than their male counterparts if they don’t feel they already possess every pre-requisite the job demands. Businesses committed to building a truly diverse workforce need to adapt their recruitment processes to reflect this, and ensure they don’t fall into the trap of listening only to those who shout about their capability loudest.”

Highlighting that many employers do not specify a degree course in their selection process is also important if young women are to be encouraged into the tech industry. By engaging with students from all degree backgrounds, employers can highlight that skills are transferable across industries traditionally considered widely different.

Graduate trainee, Mary Smith, who studied history and politics at university and recently joined KPMG’s tech consulting graduate programme agrees:

“If you look at the subject I studied at University, you might wonder how my background makes me a good fit for a tech career at a professional services firm. KPMG saw something in me that at the time I may not have seen in myself. Now I am in the role, it is clear that the skills that I already possessed are very much transferrable to the job I am doing. I would encourage more young women to not be deterred by jobs which include an element of tech, and to instead have the confidence and belief in your own capabilities to apply and succeed.”

Here at Milkround, we think raising awareness of these issues is not just vital, but absolutely essential. The best way of doing this in the most far-reaching way is by creating event initiatives that appeal directly to the youth market – such as KPMG’s ITs Her Future. Young women must be shown that a career in tech is not just a place where they could flourish in theory, but that they are actively welcomed onto this pathway and a successful career awaits them.

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