“I did notice that I was the only woman in my further maths and computer science classes in sixth form, but it wasn’t until I got to university that I realised I was going into a male-dominated industry,” says Abbie Howell, who recently graduated with a first in computer sciences from
Currently, only 15% of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) roles in the
But the incoming workforce, Generation Z, possess a fierce ambitiousness, industriousness and sense of empowerment – qualities that could prove helpful in tipping the gender balance.
A study conducted last year by Randstad found that Generation Z “are more ambitious, commercially minded and better prepared for today’s digitally connected world of work”. Commenting on the study, Mark Bull,
Anu Pothakamuri, a maths and finance student at Cass Business School in
She spent three days at PwC’s women in tech academy earlier this year, a programme where students learn about the rapidly evolving world of tech within a corporate environment.
Vanessa Moore, who studies maths at the
Anna Banasik, another women in tech academy participant, is in the middle of her computer sciences degree at King’s College London but has already completed an impressive range of work experience in the tech industry. After a stint in investment banking, she took a year out from her course for a placement with a blockchain company in
She believes that women are held back by not shouting about their achievements. “It’s down to your confidence as a networker and telling people confidently about your skillset,” she says. “This is the factor where girls find it hard.”
Banasik is used to working in environments where there are few other women around or above her. On her course, her year is “30% women max” – which she describes as still “a huge improvement” on previous years.
In an industry where only 5% of leadership positions are held by women, she says she found the female tech leaders she met at PwC inspiring: “I’ve been lucky to meet some female icons.”
Although Howell’s work experience in tech has included fewer such icons, she has found inspiration elsewhere. “I originally thought I’d be a developer forever and that’s fine, but then I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which is a great book about female leaders,” she says.
In the next couple of weeks, Howell will start a new job at a tech startup. She will be the only female developer at its
These young women stand among just 3% of female students in the
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