London offers greatest opportunities for UK women in tech, new study reveals

London’s tech community offers the greatest opportunities for British women in tech with 40 per cent of the entire country’s female tech workforce employed in the capital, according to research released during London Technology Week, and coinciding with Computer Weekly’s top 50 UK Women in Technology awards.

The survey of over 3700 working professionals across Britain by the technology recruitment firm Mortimer Spinks, also reveals that London is the best location in the UK for women to build a business, and that women tech workers in London are 2.5 times more likely to work for a tech start up, than their counterparts in the rest of the UK 1.

London’s tech companies also lead the way in promoting better opportunities for women with almost a third saying they have formal initiatives in place to recruit more women to the workforce, compared to less than a quarter in the rest of the country1.

Despite the tech industry’s progress, the findings also suggest there is still a lot of work to be done. One in 10 tech teams in London have no female employees and more than half say that less than 15 per cent of their teams are women1.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has stated that he wants the sector to be open to all Londoners and aims to reverse the under-representation of women in the industry.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London Technology Week has shown how the capital is the most important tech hub in Europe with its vibrant mix of investors, talent and creativity. Although the sector is flourishing, it is vital that we actively encourage more girls to work in digital and tech to reverse the under-representation of women in this industry. Our current female tech pioneers are the role models for the next generation and as the father of two teenage girls, I want them to have the same opportunities and aspirations. I am determined to work hand-in-hand with individuals and employers like these to nurture more young female entrepreneurs that will contribute to London’s economic prosperity.”

According to research from Tech London Advocates, London’s tech companies also lead the way in promoting better opportunities for women with almost a third saying they have formal initiatives in place to recruit more women to the workforce, compared to less than a quarter in the rest of the country2.

However, London’s tech community is making good progress, with a fifth (21 per cent) of tech companies involved in the research claiming to have a female chief executive2

Russ Shaw founder of Tech London Advocates said: “Technology’s gender problem is the industry’s guilty secret that we need to address. Despite a range of highly successful female founders and CEOs in London, senior roles and management teams at digital businesses have more of a ‘boy’s club’ factor. For a sector driven by the need for highly skilled and creative talent, failing to harness those currently under-represented makes bad business sense.” 

“London Technology Week is an opportunity to celebrate the opportunities technology companies hold for all Londoners, cutting across age, gender, ethnicity and background. The private sector must come together to expand diversity initiatives and work with local communities to make technology careers accessible and attractive to everyone.” 

Female founders are an important driver of growth for London and the UK’s economy. According to recent research from Founders4Schools, women-led businesses make up 11 per cent of UK SMEs.

Last month the Mayor’s International Business Programme helped lead a female-founders trade mission to Silicon Valley designed to help the founders maximise opportunities to expand their business and secure extra funding from the US market. The trade mission was led by London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company in partnership with Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK), the Mayor’s International Business Programme and the British Consulate General in San Francisco.

Jessica Butcher, Co-founder and Director of Blippar commented on the outcome of the trade mission: “The mission was a fabulous experience bringing together some of the best British female entrepreneurs to both network with each other and learn about how to scale our tech businesses faster to better compete on the global stage.  We came home invigorated and suffused with energy and practical advice, plus as a ‘tribe’ – committed to each other’s success and resolved to step up more publicly as role models to encourage more young women into the technology sector.”  

Janet Coyle, Principal Adviser on the Mayor’s International Business Programme and MD SVC2UK at London & Partners, added: “We chose only women led high growth companies (growing at an average of 230% per annum) for the Trade Mission  which meant we could open doors with senior leaders in Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Uber and others.  It was a great opportunity to showcase London’s talent as well as helping our female entrepreneurs to connect and seek new business and investment.  We are continuing to attract more female entrepreneurs into our programme and will continue to provide them with mentors, networks and bespoke opportunities to help them expand internationally.”

London Technology Week 2016 will see a record number of over 300 events take place across the capital from 20-26th June. This year’s festival of events has seen a large focus on promoting diversity across the tech sector including Tech London Advocates Advocating Inclusivity event at the London Stock Exchange, the BBC’s Women in Technology networking event and the unveiling of Computer Weekly’s Top 50 UK women in tech, to be announced on Thursday.