TubbTalk 95: How the Government is Helping Women get Ahead in Technology

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Amazing Women in IT - TubbTalk with Barracuda MSP

An Interview with Baroness Elizabeth Berridge

In this interview, Richard speaks to Baroness Elizabeth Berridge about women in technology.

Baroness Berridge is Minister for Women and Equalities for the UK.  It’s within the Department for International Trade. She’s also a Minister in the Department for Education.

How to Encourage More Women to Join the Technology Industry

For instance, if more women founded businesses, it would add around £250bn to the economy. “And adding women to men-only boards improves productivity.”

So, employers need to make their roles more attractive to women. And they need to encourage a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.

Research has looked at behavioural insights for job vacancies. And it found that advertising flexible working led to more female applicants.

As a result, employers should take into account the differing needs of potential hires, too.

How to Eliminate the Perception That STEM is Only for Boys

“I don’t know where that comes from,” Baroness Berridge says. “Because every young person has a smartphone. So why wouldn’t they want to know about the coding and developing behind it?”

And, she’s also actively involved with the Diversity Champions Network. This promotes apprenticeships, particularly to girls. And this has led to an increase of around a third in the number of girls taking STEM subjects.

Therefore, the key is to overcome this notion that girls can’t do maths. So, the government is developing specialist sixth form colleges.

These will offer STEM, further maths and similar subjects.  And they’re also specifically tasked with outreach to female pupils.

How can we encourage more young women into technology and change the notion that STEM is only for boys? @BaronessEB tells Richard Tubb how the UK govt is doing just that. Click to Tweet

How Apprenticeships can Encourage Young Women into Technology

So the government has newly introduced Skills and Post-19 Education Bill. It’s designed to build on apprenticeships. And it places the employers at the heart of developing the new training and qualifications.

Doing an apprenticeship and having technical qualifications is different to traditional A levels and university. So we We need young people to understand that. But they’re both equally valid.

So from 2025, there will also be new legislation on student loans. And everyone will be eligible to four years’ entitlement, which will last a lifetime. And they can be used across sectors, qualification type and level. So they’re designed to be flexible for people’s requirements.

The Opportunities for Women in Technology to ‘Build Back Better’

The government’s ‘Build Back Better’ Plan is about recovery from the Covid pandemic. Firstly, it includes adapting to flexible working and the cultural change.  Secondly, it’s a good way to get more women into the workforce.

However, Baroness Berridge says it’s also important to focus on the net zero agenda. And this means embracing green technology. “In my role at the Department of Education I’m in charge of the capital spends for school buildings.

“We look at how to build new buildings in a way that are on net zero.” These things are important to young people, and women in technology can help make them happen.

How an African Proverb has Impacted Baroness Berridge’s Life

Baroness Berridge’s favourite proverb is: “If you want to go fast, go alone. but if you want to go far go together.”

“Above all, I’ve needed people beside me to give advice and support. During the early days in my career as a barrister and now.

“We all need each other. And it’s not just about encouragement. So, you need people on side to tell you when you’re getting it wrong.

“I think I’ve avoid many pitfalls and mistakes. Because people are prepared to tell me the hard truth. So you need people to help you go further. But you also need to be open. And to listen that constructive criticism along the way.”

The Changes Baroness Berridge Would Like to See for Young Women in Technology

So in her time as Minister for Women and Equalities, Baroness Berridge has met some inspirational young women. For instance, they’ve set up businesses or started apprenticeships. “I’m seeing more of a parity of esteem. And I want that to continue.

“Many young women from the ‘left-behind areas’ want better futures for themselves. And they’re working hard to make that happen. So, I want them to inspire each other. It’s an exciting time for women to get ahead. And technology plays a big part in that.”

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