Black Women Comprise Less Than 1% Of The IT Workforce

Black women are often under-represented in the information technology sector and face barriers to progression, such as lack of flexible working, career development support and a strong ‘tech bro’ culture in some organisations. Now, an authoritative report says that more than 20,000 black women are ‘missing’ from the UK IT industry, according to Coding Black Females (CBF) and BCS, which is The Chartered Institute for IT.

In particular, the Report says the proportion of black women in IT is two-and-a-half times smaller than that of the UK workforce as a whole.

The authors sought to shed light on the experience of black women in the industry through surveys and in-depth interviews and asked 350 black women to tell them about their experiences. Analysing data from the Office of National Statistics, the report found that black women made up 1.8% of the UK workforce but only 0.7% of those working in technology. An extra 20,000 black women would need to be recruited in addition to the 12,000 already working in IT to fill the gap.

The three-part study analysed Labour Force Survey data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS); conducted in depth interviews to create a picture of the prevailing inclusivity challenges; and sought views from over 350 black women working in the UK technology sector.

Campaigning group Coding Black Females said tech "desperately needed" more people from a range of backgrounds. Industry bodies acknowledge that "more must be done" to support diversity.

The percentage of all women in IT has increased slightly over recent years, from 17% of the IT workforce in 2017 to 22% in 2021, according to the report, although they remain under-represented in senior leadership roles. In 2021, just 17% of IT directors were female, according to the report. Women are also under-represented in senior leadership roles, it said. In 2021, just 17% of IT directors were female, according to the report.

The report says while ethnic-minority representation in general is higher among IT specialists than in the wider workforce, this mostly due to the high proportion of tech professionals of Indian ethnicity.

Charlene Hunter, chief executive of Coding Black Females and a BCS board member, said: “High-stakes fields like data science and cyber security desperately need many more technologists from a diverse range of backgrounds, who all see computer science as an ethical, aspirational career choice.

“While there are some really inclusive IT organisations, our research with BCS found that successful black women, and women in general, working in tech are often where they are despite the prevailing culture and limited flexibility in their working options, and lack of inclusive working culture.” Hunter commented.

BCS:   Computerworld:    BlackGirlsIntech:    BBC:      ONS:     LSE:     

Comparethemarket:    EATimes:     NorthernEcho:

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