State of black women in the UK in the IT industry and the factors that are affecting women of color
Black women in technology are frustrated by how slowly the IT business is changing and are worn out. More than a dozen Black women are employed in technology professions across a variety of businesses and at various degrees of seniority. The Experiences of women of color in the IT Industry, a report from the British Computer Society (BCS) and Coding Black Females (CBF) that was released in October 2020 but fielded in the summer of 2021, found that only 0.7% of Black women in the UK work in the IT industry, compared to 1.8% across the UK’s entire workforce and 3.2% of Black people in total.
The UK study also found that women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds make up about 22%, or 424,000, of the workforce, compared to 48% for the entire country. Black women in particular face a number of challenges, including discrimination and being accused by co-workers or superiors of being mere “diversity hires.” When discussing their personal experiences, some professionals claimed to have heard this remark said about them directly, indirectly, or by peers.
Black women in positions ranging from the junior developer and software engineer to project management, digital delivery, and product design, and current CIOs and CTOs felt they had to put in more effort than their white counterparts to be noticed, that senior leaders scrutinize them more closely, and that they are frequently unrewarded in the quest for better roles and pay.
Women of all races are underrepresented in IT director (17%) and programmer/software development level (16%) positions, with black women rarely moving up to more senior technological roles. Senior managers typically claim project victories as their own, and co-workers frequently minimize black women’s skills, regardless of seniority, making it difficult for them to adapt to workplace environments.
The BCS and CBF study’s analyzed data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), including the opinions of 350 Black women, came to the same conclusion that more than 20,000 Black women must be hired in addition to the 12,000 who already work in the industry. The study blamed the shortage on “tech bro” cultures, rigid working conditions, and a lack of career development support.
Companies like cyber risk and analytics business Cybsafe are among those that are modifying their social practices to be more inclusive. Conscious and unconscious bias, though, presents a bigger challenge. While taking into account and including Black women in social situations is one problem, it is not the only one.
The Black women in technology who were interviewed feel that increasing representation in the IT sector should begin with educating young Black girls about the variety of careers available in IT, re-examining how graduate programs and entry-level technology jobs are advertised, examining how DEI policies align with corporate values, and examining the duties and goals expected of senior business leaders.
Additionally, there is a notion that more diverse and adaptable workplaces will enhance talent acquisition and retention. While genuine mentors, supporters, and sponsors can boost self-esteem and improve career chances, the expansion of external social communities and networks will ultimately benefit Black women in tech who are looking to make stronger connections and allies.
However, education must take place in both the boardroom and the classroom. It’s important for young girls to envision careers in technology, but it’s also important for business and technology executives to recognize their potential. Just getting started is imagining a future career. Women of color in tech should also be persistently proactive, emphasizing developing one’s personal brand, enforcing common values throughout the company and its supply ecosystems, and creating networks to support one another in their professional endeavors.
Making sure there are women of color present for the dialogue and then taking the chance to listen and learn are easier ways for non-minority organizations to get started.