Network Security, Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Lack of gender diversity hurts tech financially, Microsoft report

A lack of gender diversity in tech skills, among other industries, is harming tech firms and could hurt them even more economically if these trends continue.

A recent survey of IT and tech leaders found that more that on average, the gender mix among their teams was 80 percent male and 20 percent female with 35 percent saying they didn't plan to change this imbalance, according to Microsoft's "UK Cloud Skills Report: Closing the Cloud Skills Chasm."

The study also found that a fifth of firms that employ between 250 and 999 staff have no female IT workers. To make matters worse, the existing shortage of tech talent is creating an even greater void.

Citing a wide range of global sources, researchers in the report said that addressing the gender imbalance will derive significant benefits for global economies and that narrowing the gender gap could add as much as $12 trillion to the global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, equivalent to 11 percent of the world's GDP.

Researchers said it's important to examine the prospects for girls who could potentially pursue STEM-related careers that if the existing gender imbalance stems from a lack of candidates coming through the UK school system

“In another recently released report, Why Europe's girls aren't studying STEM, Microsoft surveyed 11,500 girls and young women (ages 11 to 30) across 12 European countries about their interest in STEM subjects,” researchers said in the report. “It found that girls across all regions start off with a high interest in STEM, but that interest plummets steadily through their teens and then picks up again in their 20s.”

Microsoft UK Chief Executive Cindy Rose told the Microsoft Tech said that companies need to develop plans to bring more women into the IT force to and that missing out on diverse and female talent is certainly a well-known problem facing our industry but it is only exacerbated when we are already facing a labor shortage.

“According to the Hays Global Skills Index, last year marked the fifth consecutive year of a rising UK skills shortage, particularly in the technical engineering and specialist technology roles into which cloud skills fall,” she said.

Significant female leadership could increase profitability within an organization with by as much as 15 percent and gender diversity on technical work teams was associated with superior adherence to project schedules, lower project costs, higher employee performance ratings, and higher employee pay bonuses, the study said.

“With substantial evidence suggesting the positive impact that a more diverse project team has on project costs, timelines and performance, it raises the question: is the gender imbalance causing UK businesses to miss out on the benefits of digital transformation?” researchers asked in the report.

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