72% of women in tech experience sexism at work

Fawcett Society report, in partnership with Virgin Media O2, highlights widespread toxic culture 

The report, System Update: Addressing the Gender Gap in Tech, is the result of eight months of extensive research, interviews and polling. It explores the views and experience of both women and men working in tech roles, as well as those who have recently left and women who have relevant qualifications but do no not currently work in the sector. The conclusions make for pretty depressing reading. 

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Photo by Christina @

Some 43% of women working in tech think about leaving their roles at least once a week. 72% of women in tech have experienced at least one form of sexism at work, including being paid less than male colleagues and sexist ‘banter’ (22%), and their skills and abilities being questioned (20%) 

Almost three-quarters of Black women and women from ethnic minorities have experienced racism at work, and a third of black women working in tech have been assumed by colleagues not to hold a technical role. 

Alarmingly, the report also reveals that 20% of men working in the tech sector think women are ‘naturally’ less suited to working in the industry – one-fifth of all those surveyed! 

Some 32% of women working in tech roles believe there is gender bias during recruitment and 14% felt uncomfortable during the recruitment process because of their gender. 

The tech sector is also seen as sexist by those working outside it. More than 25% of women working in other sectors thought the tech industry involves more sexist behaviour than elsewhere. 

The Fawcett Society has made a number or recommendations to tackle this serious issue. These include reducing bias at application, countering stereotypes and broadening access to tech, normalising and expanding flexible and part-time work as well as parental leave, promoting an inclusive social culture, and providing equitable training, pay and progressions. Others have also spoken up about the urgent need for action.   

Joanna Kori, Head of People at Encompass Corporation, says: ‘Addressing the digital skills gap is something that must be prioritised and, when you look at the number of women who are either interested in pursuing a technology-focused career or hold the necessary skills, it is imperative that businesses focus on developing and implementing improved strategies to both attract and retain them – for the benefit of the sector today, and to encourage the leaders of tomorrow through increased representation and enabling them to find role models who inspire their own paths. 

‘Women have so much to offer, and organisations within the technology sector must continue to invest in female talent to see the benefits. It is important that businesses are proactive when it comes to putting the right policies and initiatives in place, with a focus on fostering an inclusive environment that provides the support that is needed. 

‘If we are to see tangible progress, women themselves must also be confident in their skills, place in the industry, and seek out opportunities. This will go a long way towards helping to break down preconceptions, and it is with a collective push that we will see businesses and employees alike reaping the rewards of a truly diverse workforce.’  

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, adds: ‘The technology industry is facing a very serious skills shortage, so it is disappointing to see that sexist stereotypes are still lingering within the sector. Women play a key role in solving the skills crisis, so we need an increased focus on breaking down barriers that discourage them from entering tech. 

‘More support must be shown through offering training courses, flexible working initiatives and mentoring opportunities to all.’

In related news:

Cyber skills training for more than 50,000 secondary-school students 

£600k for digital inclusion in Scotland

More women in telecoms


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