Job losses in the UK tech sector have fallen disproportionately on women, according to an analysis of National Statistics data commissioned by Integro Accounting, a leading provider of accountancy services to IT contractors.
At the same time, however, the overall size of the UK tech workforce continued to grow, despite layoffs in the tech sector beginning in the Autumn of 2022.
According to Integro Accounting, the proportion of employees in the UK tech sector who are female has fallen for the first time in five years, from 22.7 percent in 2021 to 20.1 percent in 2022.
The UK tech sector successfully increased the percentage of female employees every year from 2018 to 2021.
The proportion of tech contractors who are female also declined from 16.8 percent in 2021 to 12.1 percent in 2022.
Percentage of UK tech employees and contractors who are female
The data also shows that the number of female tech employees fell in absolute terms between 2021 and 2022 from 384,025 to 359,154, a decline of 6.5 percent 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 percent. Overall, the number of tech workers (both employees and contractors) increased by 4.1 percent from 1,827,851 in 2021 to 1,903,671 in 2022.
The fall in female representation due to layoffs mirrors the 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 percent or £2,500 per month.
Between 2020 and 2021 the median gender pay gap for IT professionals in the UK widened from 10.9 percent to 12.9 percent meaning that female tech workers were being paid on average 12.9 percent less than their male co-workers.
Christian Hickmott, Managing Director of Integro Accounting, comments:
“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 parttime and non-technical roles, which are often the first t0 go during a downturn.
“Women are less likely to be represented in senior roles, which in turn are less likely to be targeted for redundancies. Under 15 percent 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.
“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.”
He adds: “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.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.