Scotland is now on the offensive to tackling gender disparities within its technology sector. The first steps in addressing these gaps came from studies released by multiple industry bodies, drawing first light on the problem. Since then, various initiatives have been launched from official and unofficial organisations aimed at attracting young women into the tech sector, culminating with the publication of an official five-year strategy from the Scottish Government only days ago.
Global technology giant Dell is now offering its support with the launch of its first ever Scottish programme aimed specifically at attracting and retaining young women in the technology industry. According to Dell, female students from STEM courses across three Scottish universities met earlier this week at Dell’s City Park Offices in Glasgow to initiate a year-long project aimed at encouraging more women into roles in IT.
The initiative, titled ‘STEM Aspire’, will pair 29 students from Glasgow Caledonian University, City of Glasgow College and the University of West Scotland with personal mentors, advising them on how to bridge the gap between higher education and a professional career in tech. Alongside one-to-one mentoring, Scottish entrants will also participate in four on-site events with Dell throughout the year.
Mark White, Site Leader for Dell in Scotland, noted that as retention was a key element of the programme, it would aim to assist women as early as possible in their studies. White noted: “We meet a lot of women who have decided to buck the trend and gain an education in a STEM topic and we’ve been increasingly concerned by the number of them who, during their education, decide to look at other careers.
“The gender imbalance in technology does get a little more equal every year, but this is being hampered when female graduates get some experience of working in our industry and decide it’s not for them. The feedback we receive is all too-often based around just how male-dominated the industry feels.”
According to Dell, STEM Aspire was brought to Scotland following the programme’s successful launch in Ireland – where the project was created – on February 1st this year. Gillian Bergin, Director of Global Operations for Dell (Ireland) claims that STEM Aspire was created in response to the ‘alarming rates’ of females leaving computer science courses in Irish colleges.
Bergin said: “Having female mentors is proven to enhance women’s motivation and aspirations. Women who don’t know other women in STEM are likely to feel more isolated, which can undermine confidence. We want to address this issue by providing access to an empowering mentoring program.”