Serious gender gap in Welsh technology events, shows research

Just 16 per cent of speakers at tech-focus events in Wales last year happened to be women, according to a recently published study.

Compiled by Steve Morgan from Tech Events Wales, the research analysed 136 technology events and found that there were only 28 female speakers. Meanwhile, 145 of them were male.

Steve, whose website provides technology enthusiasts with listings and information about local technology events, said he’s shocked at the gender imbalance in Wales.

“Though the homepage calendar updates by linking to outlets such as Eventbrite, Meetup and Facebook, I regularly check that all the information is accurate,” he said.

“So if someone wants to go to an event focused on specific topics such as SEO or web design, the listings are there for them.

“It was then I noticed that there were very few women’s names in the lineups, and with the gender pay gap very much in the news, I decided to have a closer look at the speakers of all the meetups I could find last year.”

These event figures replicate other research showing that there’s a lack of women working in the technology industry. For example, according to the Women’s Engineering Society, only 15 per cent of the UK’s tech workforce are women.

Catrin Atkins, co-founder of the network Women in Tech Cymru, said more needs to be done to get bright women into STEM roles. “If you search Google Images for a technician, mathematician or scientist, the vast majority of results are men,” she said.

“It might sound trivial, but if something as every day as an image search fails to provide an equal representation, then we have to begin to think about what examples are out there for young women to aspire to.

“Though perhaps the representation might reflect the wider ratio of men to women in the tech world, more needs to be done to promote these career options to women, so that we can begin to address the issue.

“I think with a gradual rise in female-focused events, things are changing, but until the wider community becomes more inclusive and actively seeks out female speakers, the change will continue to be slow.”

Despite these findings, Jo Golley – head of engagement of Innovation Point and an organiser of the Digital Festival – believes that change is beginning to happen.
“The drive to support and encourage women to join those of us already enjoying a successful career in tech has increasingly been at the forefront of a number of tech events happening both in Wales and further afield,” she told Tech Dragons.
“The ever-changing South Wales Digital Tuesday speaker and delegate profile has led the way for my team putting together the line-up for this year’s Digital Festival.
“I am proud to be able to say that over 45% of our speakers are female, not because we’ve shoehorned them in to achieve a diversity target, but because they are relevant, inspiring women who have a story to tell and an opinion to share.”