Global tech AccelerateHER

As Scotland business unit leader for CGI, sponsors of the AccelerateHER Awards, I’m delighted to see the high quality of semi-finalists shortlisted last week for the 2021 programme.

A total of 24 female business founders operating within four tech-based sectors have emerged in this year’s competition, highlighting the growing influence and aspirations of women within our sector. However, despite the great efforts of AccelerateHER and other initiatives, there is a long way to go before we see women equally represented within the global tech industry and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions.

2019 research conducted by community interest organisation WISE found that women made up just over 1m of the core STEM workforce in the UK. While this figure represents an increase of over 350,000 in the last decade, women still only account for 24% of the nation’s total STEM workforce. Based on current trajectories, it won’t be until beyond 2030 before we reach a 30% female representation in these fields, a level where evidence suggests a minority group is able to influence real change within an industry.

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As the UK emerges from Covid and negotiates the uncertainties of Brexit, addressing the current underrepresentation of women in key technology roles will be increasingly essential given the sector’s growth potential and the economic uplift this can deliver. UK-based organisation Women in Tech estimates our economy would benefit by an extra £2.6bn each year if we increased the number of women working in technology just to fill the prevalent IT skills shortage.

Accelerating the pace of change in the technology sector will require a multi-layered approach. I’ve been fortunate within my own career at CGI, where I’ve been continually surrounded by successful and inspiring women. This has come about through a strong focus on attracting more females with initiatives including an annual ‘bring your daughter to work’ day, aimed at inspiring young female family members, and our CGI UK Women’s Network, which promotes gender diversity across the business.

Far from being an altruistic gesture, this approach is beneficial to our business success as it ensures we continually develop high calibre people across our entire workforce. Here in Scotland women now account for a significant majority of the CGI management team, underlining the fact that, based on merit, we can thrive in this sector.

Along with continued efforts from national and regional governments to encourage women into the tech sectors, we also need to see education authorities channelling more girls into STEM subjects and promoting the substantial career opportunities that are available to them.

Supporting programmes like the AccelerateHER Awards, which celebrate and promote female-founders in tech-focused sectors, is also essential. Women leading these companies demonstrate the potential to thrive in technology and inspire others to pursue success in a sector that is key to our economic future.

Lindsay McGranaghan, Vice President and Business Unit Leader, Scotland, CGI

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