Job losses in the UK tech sector have fallen disproportionately on women, according to a new analysis of National Statistics data, commissioned by accountancy service provider Integro Accounting.
New data analysis reveals that the proportion of female employees in UK tech has called for the first time in five years. In 2021, 22.7 per cent of all employees in the sector were female, compared to just 20.1 per cent in 2022.
Prior to the fall, the UK tech sector had successfully increased the proportion of female employees every year from 2018 to 2021. Integro Accounting also found that the proportion of tech contractors who are female also declined from 16.8 per cent in 2021 to 12.1 per cent in 2022.
From 2021 to 2022, the number of female tech employees fell from 384,025 to 359,154, a decline of 6.5 per cent in a single year. Meanwhile, the number of male tech employees continued to rise between 2021 and 2022, from 1,306,833 to 1,419,590, an increase of 8.6 per cent.
Overall, the number of tech workers (both employees and contractors) increased by 4.1 per cent from 1,827,851 in 2021 to 1,903,671 in 2022.
The fall in female representation due to layoffs mirrors another trend seen during the pandemic in which female tech workers were disproportionately placed on furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which capped pay at a maximum of 80 per cent or £2,500 per month.
Between 2020 and 2021 the median gender pay gap for IT professionals in the UK widened from 10.9 per cent to 12.9 per cent – meaning that female tech workers were being paid on average 12.9 per cent less than their male co-workers.
Why were women the main casualties of cuts?
Christian Hickmott, managing director of Integro Accounting, commented on some of the reasons why 2022 was a difficult year for women in tech: “The UK tech sector has made great strides in boosting female representation in recent years so it is disappointing to see much of that progress undone during the recent round of tech layoffs.
“Women tend to be more highly concentrated in part-time and non-technical roles, which are often the first to go during a downturn. They are also less likely to be represented in senior roles, which in turn are less likely to be targeted for redundancies. Under 15 per cent of IT directors are women, compared to nearly a third of tech workers in support roles. Given it is the IT director who normally wields the axe and the support roles most likely to be cut, the challenge is to increase female representation at senior levels,” Hickmott explained.
“Many of the tech roles created during the pandemic were remote, which favoured women juggling career and caring responsibilities. These remote roles have been among the first to go as the economy slowed and the pushback against remote working gathered pace.
“The silver lining in these data is the relative resilience of the UK tech sector to the wave of job losses initiated by US tech giants in Q3 of last year. US tech companies went on a hiring binge during the pandemic and have found it much easier to shed staff due to weaker labour laws. The European tech sector, by contrast, isn’t characterised by such a hire and fire working culture.”