Inspiring inclusion for International Women’s Day: women in tech

8 March 2024

Prospect’s Tech Workers Organiser Maria Torres-Quevedo reflects on the challenges facing women in the UK’s tech sector and the significant progress still to be made to make tech workplaces more inclusive for all.   

Prospect’s tech workers’ branch has just had its second Annual General Meeting. The branch is still young, but in the time that it has been running, the problems women face in the sector have been apparent and are worth reflecting on this International Women’s Day, considering this year’s theme of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’.

Despite the essential contribution of women to computer science – indeed the first computer scientist, Ada Lovelace, was a woman – the tech sector is overwhelmingly not built with women and their needs in mind. This is reflected in many areas in the sector. 

One of these is hiring practices. The rate of women employed in tech jobs has always fallen short of 50%; while some progress has been made over time, recent redundancies hitting the tech sector have disproportionately affected women. According to, 16,449 tech workers lost their jobs in 2023 in the UK. Stack Overflow reported that: 

“Of those who lost their jobs in the most recent round of layoffs, 45% were women—which doesn’t sound bad until you remember that less than a third of tech industry roles and less than a quarter of tech leadership roles are filled by women. Other underrepresented groups, especially Black tech workers, have also been impacted at outsize rates.”

With these statistics, it seems the industry is going backwards in terms of women’s inclusion.

As in many other sectors, another issue women face is pay equality. One company whose workers I spoke to had a pay gap of 34.4%, which means women in that company are only being paid their male counterparts’ salaries up until August of each year. On average, in the tech sector, women earn 10.8% less than men whereas for all sectors the average pay gap is 7.7%. This does not account for the differences in bonuses, which would compound the gap. This data is reflected in the conversations I’ve had with workers and the results of the survey we ran across the sector in 2022

The sector’s pay gap is in part enabled by the widespread lack of pay transparency. Transparent pay and responsibilities is the first point on the tech workers charter developed by workers in the sector and supported by Prospect. Clear pay grades and responsibilities would help ensure that workers are being paid fairly for their labour and promoted based on experience and accomplishments, rather than bias and discrimination. Prospect has a history of success in fighting for equal pay.

Women shoulder the majority of caring responsibilities, which makes the tech sector’s well-established problems with work/life balance and flexible working arrangements particularly difficult for them. Prospect has campaigned for the right to disconnect, and the charter further addresses these issues. 

We have found that contracts in the tech sector frequently ask workers to sign out of Working Time Regulations, which stipulate that an employer cannot make employees opt out of the 48-hour working week. While it is different to ask employees to do so rather than to make them, many workers are still unaware that they can’t be forced to sign out of these regulations as part of their contract. The pressure to work so many hours, which should be resisted by the whole sector on behalf of all workers, arguably disproportionately affects women.

The fight for gender equality goes beyond the gender binary. As is so often the case, it is harder to get data on the gender discrimination faced by non-binary workers. While more data is needed, the tech workers’ branch is aware of the crucial role trans and non-binary workers play in the sector, and is keenly aware that the factors playing into women’s marginalisation in the sector also affect them. 

One way to tackle these issues is to unionise, get organised, and start using your collective power to change things at work.

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