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Let's 'Smash the Glass Ceiling' for Women in Tech Jobs

21/05/2015 16:36 BST | Updated 20/05/2016 10:59 BST

It was great to hear Yvette Cooper saying that ministers should do more to get female web designers, coders and tech investors into public and private sector jobs - and it is indeed 'crazy' that 98% of internet coding is programmed by men and only 14% of technology jobs are filled by women.

Until recently, as President of Sony Media Cloud Services, I was part of this 14% - so I can say with confidence that working in the digital economy is one of the most exciting, fast-moving and challenging places to be at the moment. But the main challenge for me is how we get the next generation of career women to realise this.

I don't think the Government can make this happen alone - although they certainly have an important part to play. But we also need to change perceptions of technology careers held by parents, teachers and, most importantly, by girls themselves.

Our recent research with parents of children aged 9-12, which formed part of our Engineer a Better World campaign, found that despite the fact that 39% of girls said they enjoyed their ICT lessons at school, only 14% said they would be interested in pursuing a technology-related career.

As part of the research, parents and children were shown pictures of a range technology and engineering careers. The majority of parents, particularly those with daughters, had no idea how many different types of technology and engineering jobs there were, the creative aspects, and that these jobs could be so interesting and varied. But after being shown information on technology and engineering careers, two thirds of parents said they would encourage their daughters into one of these careers.

When asked what they thought their child would like most about technology and engineering, parents said their child would like the variety, areas such as software and sound engineering, being creative, and making a difference.

What all of this tells me is that yes, the Government must look at policies that help more women to climb the career ladder in digital careers. But these policies must be very wide reaching - targeting girls, parents and teachers, as well as employers. And we must also think much more creatively about how we 'sell' digital careers to girls and women.

Finding the right role models is one of most impactful ways to do this. Martha Lane Fox was one of the first prominent females to fly the flag for high-achieving women in the digital sector. But there are others - and initiatives like the IET's Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards are all about finding more of them.

And we need to see more images of women doing digital jobs - on television, in newspapers and magazines, and in the information we see online.

So yes please, Yvette, we're looking forward to hearing more about your ideas on how women can smash the tech ceiling. But let's not forget we must make sure they have the aspirations to do so in the first place.