92% of 18-25 Year-Olds Can’t Name a Famous Woman in Tech

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92% 18-25-year-old women

Nine out of ten 18-25-year-old women can’t name a single famous woman in tech or IT. 

That’s according to a report by Samsung Electronics, which found that while two-thirds of 18-25 women are considering a career in tech, 92 per cent fail to identify a famous female figure in the industry. 

When shown some famous women, just 14 per cent of the women could correctly identify Ada Lovelace, while a further 12 per cent mistook ITV’s Alison Hammond for a tech pioneer. 

This is despite the fact Ada Lovelace is largely known as the first computer programmer in history, and even has an awareness day dedicated to her, “Ada Lovelace Day” which is held every October.

The research polled over 2,000 18–25-year-old women in the UK to understand young women’s attitudes towards tech careers, revealing what factors influence career paths, and exploring the influence that role models have.

Of those surveyed, nine out of ten believed there are barriers to considering a role in the industry – whether it be not understanding enough about the sector, not having the right qualifications or fear of it being too challenging. 

A third also saw non-tech roles such as HR, finance, and marketing as gateways into working in tech but also admit they don’t understand enough about the industry to take those first steps. 

A lack of support for Gen-Z women 

Samsung found that progress to attract more women into the tech sector is being hampered by a lack of support at a young age. 

One-third of women (34%) say they didn’t learn enough about tech at school, and 22% even reported that they were steered away from subjects relevant to the tech industry at school or college by their teachers.

“Technological innovation is front and centre and instead of being put off, or tuning out of the conversation, Gen-Z are actively engaged in these developments,” said Annika Bizon, Marketing and Omnichannel Director at Samsung UK.

With growing excitement, the next question is how can employers and educators break down the barriers to entry and facilitate action to close the gap between intention and action? 

Annika Bizon, Marketing and Omnichannel Director at Samsung UK

“We must be the ones to rally together, to enable the next generation to take practical steps to pursue meaningful careers,” says Annika Bizon, Marketing and Omnichannel Director at Samsung UK.

For a third of respondents, having more women in the industry would make it a more attractive career choice. A similar number said that more role models overall would add to the appeal of tech.

“In 2017, a report revealed that 78 per cent of UK students couldn’t name a famous woman working in technology. Today, this figure is worse,” said Tanya Weller, Marketing Director at Samsung UK and Ireland.

“There is clearly an appetite from young women to pursue a career in tech, but we all need to step up to help these women realise their ambitions – it’s the combined effort of schools, universities, and workplaces to actively break down barriers, and support and inspire the next generation of talent into a thriving career in tech. 

“We need robust role models that the young women of tomorrow can look up to as a source of inspiration, to stop and think ‘I can do that too’. Or perhaps even, ‘I can do better.’”

Building female representation in tech

Representation in tech matters when it comes to attracting women to the tech industry. For a third of respondents, having more women in the industry would make it a more attractive career choice. A similar number said that more role models overall would add to the appeal of tech.

The lack of global companies with women at their helm demonstrates the need for increased education and support from the technology space to allow women to enter and remain within the space. 

A recent report by IBM found that 61 per cent of women believe they are underqualified for a career in STEM despite the majority understanding the career prospects the technology space has to offer. 

Cyndi Festa, Head of Data Sources at Encompass Corporation, told EM360 that these findings demonstrate the need for organisations to empower women by promoting a diverse, gender-inclusive working culture. 

“Companies must look at who they have in leadership positions and the approach they take to ensuring people's voices are heard,” Ms Festa said.

"To really cultivate a positive, diverse culture you need to listen to everyone and support team members - regardless of their backgrounds or needs to develop, be their best, and help them to deliver against organisational objectives.”

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