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Tech women: your time is now!

The UK’s technology sector employs around 2 million people. It leads Europe and ranks third behind the US and China on the global stage. The start-up scene is particularly vibrant, valued at around £800bn in 2023, a 10% year-on-year increase. There’s much to be proud of and many positive indicators. 

One indicator where the dial remains stubbornly steadfast is gender balance within tech work environments. 

The UK workforce as a whole has a roughly 50:50 gender split but in tech, women make up just 26% of staff. While the number of women working in the technology sector has climbed over the past decade, growth is slow and this under-representation makes many feel isolated and  unfulfilled through work, ultimately impeding remuneration and promotion prospects.  These are key reasons why one in five women in tech are considering leaving their jobs

Perhaps this might not be such a bad thing. Why? Because maybe this exodus will be the catalyst for women to take affirmative action and go it alone into entrepreneurship. 

The barriers for women starting their own businesses are very real. These include time-inhibiting factors, notably family caregiving responsibilities, but they also include issues around confidence.

However, it has proven that women are capable of doing more, much more than they might believe they can in high-flying commercial environments. Indeed, the Harvard Business Review concluded that women rate higher than men in three-quarters of the competencies that make outstanding leaders. Furthermore, women tend to be motivated by purpose rather than power - an essential attribute for a successful start-up – and are generally hardwired to achieve goals through communication and collaboration. 

Perhaps this is why the latest Alison Rose progress report on female entrepreneurship found that the UK economy would grow by £250bn if as many women as men took the plunge to start their own businesses. 

It’s no surprise then that there’s a raft of initiatives designed to support women on their entrepreneurship journey. The Investing in Women Code, for example, encourages funding for female-led enterprises and here, there is progress: the IWC now covers a large proportion of the SME lending market, accounting for 39% of UK venture and growth equity deals, an increase from 24% in 2020.

Access to funding is a critical success factor. Access to qualified and understanding business mentors is another. 

An Ipsos/We Are Tech Women survey reported that 58% of women who had accessed mentoring felt that it helped increase confidence in their abilities. 57% said it supported them in difficult work situations. 54% were inspired to achieve more. 

This is just one of the reasons that Southampton Science Park and globally renowned business incubator, SETsquared, have joined forces to create a Women Entrepreneurs’ Workout

This two-day workshop with expert mentors has been developed exclusively for female founders of digital, technology and science-based ventures. It aims to give participants the necessary time and environment in which to focus on their goals in an inclusive and supportive space. Successful applicants will work in a small group of likeminded women on building the foundations for a profitable, resilient business. 

I felt more inclined to apply because it was an all-female programme. It felt like a safe space to share,” remarked one previous participant. 

Being an all-female programme didn’t make me more inclined to apply but it was the most positive outcome. We had a shared understanding of balancing work, business and life,” said another. 

The 2024 event takes place on 6th and 7th March, fittingly in the same week as International Women’s Day. Applications must be received by 28 February. Taking part also opens up the opportunity for further funded support through the Science Park’s highly acclaimed Catalyst Programme

As we all know, taking the first step is always the hardest part, but this is an opportunity not to be missed. Women in tech: 2024 is your time!  Take that step and register your interest today.

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