The majority of women in technology have experienced toxic work environments, with 21% experiencing it frequently.

That’s according to Talent Works, the Recruitment Processing Outsourcing (RPO) provider, which surveyed women in technology on their experiences on recruitment and employment in the UK. 

The results, released today on International Women’s Day, make for concerning reading, after campaigns like Women in Tech have been running for well over five years.

When asked what puts women in technology off taking a role, a toxic culture was the most common answer (36%). A healthy work culture tops the list of female desires to feel supported in tech (59%), followed by the gender pay gap being addressed (56%) and seeing more women in leadership roles (54%). 

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Organisational change

An overwhelming percentage of respondents said the responsibility to create organisational change lies with the top (74%), 73% noted that they would be more likely to join a tech firm that has female leadership. 

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of TechUK, commented:

“Encouraging women into the tech sector is critical. Diverse voices must be at the table when designing our digital future, otherwise we risk creating a world that doesn’t work for everybody. Sadly, these results today show that culture remains the biggest barrier to Inclusion, and if anything, the pandemic has worsened the diversity gap. Against the context of the UK skills shortage, it’s time for organisations to actively create conditions for women and minority voices to thrive and to differentiate through hiring strategies that support diversity and inclusion.”

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Elena Hill-Artamonova, Research Manager at Talent Works, commented: “Although there’s been a focus on attracting women to tech roles, the working environments in many organisations are toxic and women aren’t confident that enough is being done to support them.

It’s the responsibility of leadership and middle management to create healthy working environments that support women and encourage them to both apply and stay in tech roles.

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Without this, the industry is at risk of further reducing the number of women in tech.”

The application process also has a considerable impact on whether women in technology apply for a role, with 66% of respondents being confident that they can spot a toxic work environment during the application process.

  • 52% of women also feel that companies create gendered job adverts (for example, using masculine and feminine words).

“At a time of intense skills shortage in technology, companies are neglecting some of the best talent right here, and the solution might be a cultural change and hiring more women to lead the charge from the top,” Hill-Artamonova concluded.