Help for FinTech SMEs to attract more women and address the skills gap

The FinTech sector in Scotland and across the world is growing rapidly as is the demand for new staff to fuel this growth. In the wider digital technologies sector in Scotland, 12,800 vacancies arise every year and many businesses struggle to fill these roles.

Despite this evident skills gap, the proportion of women in digitally focused roles is only 18% as opposed to 48% in the workforce as a whole and 39% in other skilled occupations. There is an enormous opportunity to meet many of the industry’s skills needs by closing the technology gender gap.

The need for diversity

In addition to addressing the growing skills gap, there are robust business, legal and moral cases for improving gender diversity in companies. We know that where there are greater levels of diversity, companies experience greater returns on investment, equity and sales. Women’s equal participation in STEM is estimated to be worth £170 million to the Scottish economy annually.

Over the last few years, an increasing number of companies have started taking action and working in partnership with education institutions and the skills agencies to attract and retain more women to the digital technologies sector. This is reflected in the results of the recent Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2018, conducted by ScotlandIS, which showed that more than 68% of respondents have already taken action to address the technology gender gap.

A new workplace

The most commonly taken step to attract more women is to offer flexible working patterns that are compatible with child care commitments. 55% have tried this measure and found that it helps and only 6% of respondents are unlikely to try it.

Around a quarter of responding companies provide female role models for engagement with schools and universities and/or support initiatives like Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) or Girl Geeks.

The least used measure is the provision of return-to-work training for women after a career break (15%) even though 71% of respondents would consider this step.

A question of size?

However, the figures also reveal that large businesses (more than 500 employees) were more likely than small and medium companies to have successfully implemented any of the measures mentioned above.

SMEs often report that they struggle to develop more inclusive workplaces policies and practices due to a lack of time, resources, access to expertise and awareness of effective practices.

The engendering STEM project

The ENGENDERING STEM project has been set up to help SMEs in FinTech and other sectors that recruit for technical/STEM roles to overcome these barriers. City of Glasgow College, Equate Scotland and partners from the Netherlands and the Basque Country in Spain are working together to develop an evidence based self-assessment toolkit, best practice guides and blended learning training solutions. The project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

Do you work for a technology or engineering company with fewer than 250 employees? Then the ENDERING STEM project wants to hear from you! There are 3 ways to get involved:
  1. Get Advice and Support - We will work with you to provide tailored recommendations and support to improve the gender balance in your business – all you have to do is complete our free online self-assessment tool.

  2. Give Your Views - What are your views on getting more women into Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM)? Fill in our anonymous survey here

  3. Share Best Practice - Do you have a success story to share? ENGENDERING STEM can promote this to a European audience in our series of best practice guides. Share your case study with us here

For more information visit the website or contact
Svea Miesch is Research and Policy Manager at ScotlandIS, the trade body for Scotland's digital technologies industry, and member of the ENGENDERING STEM expert group.