By Ronnie Corse, Technology Leader at Sky

THE gender gap in Scotland’s digital sector is a problem. It has been for some time. Yet it has only been in recent years that we have really started to take practical steps to solving the issue. According to the Tackling The Gender Technology Gap Together (TTGTGT) report, women fill only 18 per cent of tech roles in Scotland. It’s not a quick fix.

To tackle the gender gap, we need a two-pronged approach. The first is to attract women to the sector from a young age, encouraging them to consider digital as a career and not write off science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) subjects.

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The second is to focus on women working in technology, ensuring that we – from industry to education to public bodies – do everything possible to attract and retain female talent.

This is where role models come in. According to the TTGTGT report, role models are vital when encouraging young girls to consider a digital career. Having someone credible, inspiring and relatable is key. It’s not just young women at the start of their career who benefit. Here at Sky, there are several female colleagues established in their careers who provide support and inspiration to others around them. But we need more.

Successful women working in Scotland’s digital sector set an example that anything is possible and that stereotypes can be challenged. Role models are examples of what can be achieved, which is why they are valuable at every level.

At Sky, we take part in a number of outreach activities to address the gender issue, from attending Stem events to inviting school pupils into our offices to chat with female engineers. Activity like this is inspiring for young girls, especially when they are in the throes of choosing a career.

For our younger female generation, we need to bust the myth that digital is all about “coding” and showcase the variety of roles within tech. We need to challenge male stereotypes within the sector and make young girls aware that having a great attitude and passion is more important than already possessing technical skills. We also need to show that you don’t need to be scientifically minded to work in digital – one of our best female engineers at Sky comes from an arts background. Role models are a powerful way of showing girls what can be achieved and helping them believe they can do the same.

Role models are incredibly relevant for women working in digital, particularly for those new to the workplace and seeking support from female colleagues. Women in tech groups chaired by influential figures provide a great female support network. And it’s not just young women or others in the workplace who benefit from female role models. It’s something that can be incredibly beneficial for role models themselves. It’s a rewarding opportunity offering the chance to look back and reflect on experience, share challenges and provide solid, worthwhile advice. It’s a chance to empower others and make a positive impact.

Role models have the potential to make a real difference. The gender gap needs strong momentum behind it if we are to drive positive change. What’s great is that there are resources out there to help. Skills Development Scotland is creating a female mentoring and role model framework in Scotland and they’ve produced a number of resources offering support and guidance to women looking to become role models. We’re all responsible for bringing about the change that we want to see within our technology sector. More female role models can pave the way.