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IWD 2024: Tackling the gender gap: A call to revolutionise STEM education
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

In the lead-up to International Women's Day, an alarming trend within the technology sector has sparked significant concern amongst industry professionals. Juliet Moran, a prominent businesswoman with decades of experience in tech, has launched a scathing critique of the UK education system, holding it accountable for the stark underrepresentation of women in technology-related fields.

Moran, who has been an integral part of the tech industry since the late '90s, points out a worrying decline in the number of women pursuing careers in this sector. With only 26% of technology positions occupied by women, she emphasises that the gender imbalance is not just a fleeting issue but a deep-rooted problem stemming from educational institutions.

Serving as the technical director at TelephoneSystems.Cloud, Moran brings attention to the decreasing number of female STEM university graduates, a decline that has been consistent since 2016. Highlighting that only 19% of tech-related bachelor's degree students in Europe are women—and a mere 23% of these graduates find their way into tech roles—she argues that the UK is on the brink of forfeiting an invaluable pool of talent.

"When I went to University over twenty years ago, I was considered a rarity in tech, but at the time the industry was only just starting to take off. However, my course was still 40% women," Moran recalls. This comparison to current statistics is stark, underlining a regression in female representation within the field. Moran shares anecdotes of female graduates who found themselves to be the sole women in their courses, a scenario she describes as both disheartening and regressive.

Moran's critique extends beyond mere statistics, diving into the root causes of this gender disparity. She argues that the gender bias in schools is a significant barrier, preventing girls from developing an interest in STEM subjects. This bias, according to Moran, is compounded by an inadequate foundational understanding of technology among educators and a concerning lack of investment in essential technological tools and training.

As a mother witnessing her daughter navigate the educational system, Moran sees firsthand the disadvantages faced by girls in STEM. "Schools lack a basic understanding of technology, and pupils are not being taught the fundamentals of why tech is important, or being shown the possibilities of a tech career," she asserts. This educational shortfall, Moran suggests, is where sexism in the industry begins, necessitating immediate action to foster engagement and enthusiasm among young girls towards technology.

The call to action is clear: the UK must revolutionise its approach to STEM education, addressing both the gender bias and the technological training gaps within schools. If these issues remain unaddressed, Moran fears the consequences will extend far beyond the classrooms, impacting the diversity and innovation potential within the tech industry itself.

As we commemorate International Women's Day, Moran's critique serves as a timely reminder of the work that lies ahead. It's a call to educators, policymakers, and industry leaders to collaborate in dismantling the barriers facing women in tech, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable future for all.