'˜Lack of confidence prevents women from pursuing careers in technology sector'

MANY young women are suffering from a worrying crisis of confidence in their digital skills, which could be widening the gender skills gap, according to new research.

Graham Pearce of KPMG
Graham Pearce of KPMG

A survey of more than 1,000 university students conducted by KPMG and independent market research company High Fliers indicated that a lack of self belief could be the biggest factor stopping young women from achieving their potential.

The poll found that only 37 per cent of young women are confident they have the tech skills needed by today’s employers, compared with 57 per cent of young men.

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This is despite the fact that the women scored on a par with their male counterparts when assessed on digital skills such as data manipulation and use of social media.

A spokesman said: “There is evidence that this lack of confidence could be putting many young women off applying for jobs: 73 per cent of female respondents said they have not considered a graduate job in technology.”

Commenting on the findings Graham Pearce, head of technology in the north at KPMG, said: “The issue here isn’t around competency – far from it – but rather how businesses understand the underlying capability of an individual and how to unlock it.

“This research highlights the work that needs to be done to show the next generation that when it comes to a career in tech, gender isn’t part of the equation.

“Competition for jobs is tough, and we know that female job seekers can be less likely to apply for a role than their male counterparts if they don’t feel they already possess every prerequisite the job demands.

“Businesses committed to building a truly diverse workforce need to adapt their recruitment processes to reflect this, and ensure they don’t fall into the trap of listening only to those who shout about their capability loudest.”

Graduate trainee, Mary Smith, who studied history and politics at university and recently joined KPMG’s tech consulting graduate programme, added: “If you look at the subject I studied at university, you might wonder how my background makes me a good fit for a tech career at a professional services firm. KPMG saw something in me that at the time I may not have seen in myself.

“Now I am in the role, it is clear that the skills that I already possessed are very much transferable to the job I am doing. I would encourage more young women to not be deterred by jobs which include an element of tech, and to instead have the confidence and belief in your own capabilities to apply and succeed.”

Mr Pearce added: “We recruit around 1,000 graduates each year through our graduate recruitment process, Launch Pad, and we are proud to have reached a 50/50 gender split amongst our graduate intake. However, to maintain this level of equality in an increasingly digital world, it’s vital that more women like Mary have the confidence that their tech skills will be applicable for a role at a professional services firm like ours.”