Number of women employed in UK tech down, gender pay gap up

Women bear the brunt of tech layoffs, adding to grim picture on progress to gender parity in sector.

The number of women employees in the UK tech sector has fallen, while the number of men employed has risen year-on-year.

Analysis of national statistics data by Integro Accounting found the number of women employed in the sector fell to 359,154 from 384,025 – down 6.5% – in the year 2021-22. The number of men employed rose 8.6%, from 1,306,833 to 1,419,590.

The figures mean that, for the first time in five years, the proportion of women employed in the sector has declined. It had been rising every year since 2018, but fell to 12.1% in 2022, from 16.8% the year before.

This is against the backdrop of a 4.1% increase in the numbers of workers – employees and contractors – in the sector, up 4.1% to 1,903,671.

Gender pay gap

The fall is attributed to layoffs, and comes after statistics also revealed women in the sector were disproportionally furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic. And, between 202 and 2021, the median gender pay gap for IT professionals in the UK increased to 12.9%.

Addressing why women have been so disproportionally affected, Christian Hickmott, the MD of Integro, said: “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.”

The figures make grim reading for those who had identified signs of progress over gender parity in the tech industry. Aside from the ethical considerations, it’s been estimated that achieving gender parity in the tech industry could add £2.6bn ($3.4bn) to the UK economy.

Earlier this year UK tech website UKTN reported that:

  • just 27% of UK equity deals went to tech startups in which at least one founder was a woman;
  • fewer than 10% of UK equity deals in any year since 2012 went to all-women founder teams;
  • the UK gender pay gap in tech startups is 26%, meaning women earn 74p for every £1 earned by men, the European average gender pay gap in tech is 19%;
  • of the 144 tech unicorns in the UK, just 13 (9%) had female founders;
  • funding for startups in the femtech sector, which includes startups that support women’s health and wellbeing, fell 59% to £45.5m ($54m) dollars last year;
  • startups founded by women find it harder to secure funding beyond the early stages of growth.