Yvette Cooper Wants To 'Smash Glass Ceiling' For Women In Tech Jobs

Yvette Cooper: after Steve Jobs, we need a 'Stephanie Jobs'
Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Yvette Cooper has called on the Government to the 'smash the glass ceiling' on women getting jobs in the digital industries.

In another bid to underline her pro-business credentials, the Labour leadership contender said ministers should act to get more female web designers, coders and tech investors into public and private sector jobs.

Ms Cooper's remarks came after she distanced herself from Ed Miliband earlier today, attacking Laboour's "anti-business, anti-growth and ultimately anti-worker" approach.

She also said for the first time today that the party should 'ideally' not have run up a current deficit before the crash of 2008, telling BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' that the party should have run a surplus instead.

The Shadow Home Secretary said that Whitehall had to start listening to calls for change from Martha Lane Fox, the founder of lastminute.com and former Government policy adviser.

"So many of our future jobs will need to be digital, so much of our lives is already dependent on new technology. Yet women aren't at the heart of it," Ms Cooper said.

"It’s crazy that 98% of the code the internet uses continues to be programmed by men. Women cannot and should not be locked out of the jobs of the future and the digital economy we should be embracing.

“And let’s be honest, this isn’t just a tragic waste of talent. The digital economy is missing out on the women who should be changing the world. People are looking for the next Steve Jobs, but where's the Stephanie Jobs? One of the reasons I’m in politics and running for Labour leader is to smash these glass ceilings.

“The Government should listen to Martha Lane Fox who has argued strongly that women need to be a central part of the new digital age."

Ms Cooper said Britain should become the science and technology capital of Europe, but with a plan for investment and skills to allow women and other underrepresented groups to climb the career ladder .

In her Dimbleby Lecture earlier this year, Baroness Lane Fox highlighted the problem of women being shut out of the tech sector, where they fill just 14% of jobs.

Fewer than 10% of tech investors are women and the figure drops to 5% for highly paid software engineers, architects and system operators.

Ms Cooper, who is claimed to have secured as many as 50 leadership nominations from MPs, took swipes earlier today at Labour's previous 'anti-business' message.

She singled out not just Ed Miliband's controversial 'predators versus producers' rhetoric, but also Labour's manifesto pledge to reverse planned cuts in Corporation Tax.

The party could not be 'set against' cuts in the tax, which have been welcomed by business.

Other declared runners in the race for the Labour leadership are Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Mary Creagh.

Tristram Hunt, who tomorrow makes a major speech on what his party got wrong in the election, is understood to be ready to announce his intentions by the end of this week.

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