FINANCIAL services giants PwC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Morgan Stanley are throwing their weight behind a campaign to improve gender balance in technology roles in Scotland.

The firms outlined their plans at the campaign’s launch in Scotland at the PwC’s offices in Edinburgh last night, which it is hoped will act as a springboard to encourage Scottish-based businesses to come together to inspire more young women to pursue technology careers.

The companies said that if the people working in technology roles don’t reflect wider society “there is a real risk that the products and technology advances will be biased”.

The businesses set out the framework in the Tech She Can Charter for Scotland, aimed at creating an increase in the number of women studying for technology careers both now and in future. The group said a wider charter was earlier launched nationally to help tackle the factors behind the shortfall of women in technology roles before the Scottish launch now focuses on north of the Border.

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The campaign was set up after PwC research found that only 23 per cent of people working in STEM jobs were female.

PwC’s Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap report showed that 27% of women would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. About 3% of females said it was their first choice of career.

The reasons given by female students included that technology was not put forward as an option, not enough information was available and there was a lack of access to female role models.

Claire Reid, of PwC Scotland, said those creating technology should be representative of the population.

She said: “Having worked in a variety of technology roles throughout my career I know first-hand how much work is needed to address the issue of gender balance.

“This is an important societal problem and the charter will see industry in Scotland working together to tackle the root cause of the lack of females in technology roles. With technology coming to influence every aspect of our lives, we need to ensure that the people creating technology are representative of the population and that women have an equal opportunity to take part in the jobs of the future."

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She added: “We want to inspire and educate more females across Scotland to consider technology as a career option, with the ultimate goal of improving the gender balance. To do that, we need businesses to sign up to the charter and I welcome other businesses to sign up and help create a better future with better opportunities for girls and young women.”

Wincie Wong, of RBS, said the technology sector is “one of the country’s key economic drivers”.

She said: “Scotland is home to some of the sector’s leading businesses and this charter will not only play a role in helping drive gender balance and foster new opportunities but will help the sector attract more talent and build a sustainable, long-term future.

“By working together we can encourage more girls and women to consider a career in technology and help the industry thrive.”

Siân Allsopp, of Morgan Stanley, said that “diversity is a business imperative”, adding “there is abundant evidence supporting the performance of diverse companies and teams”.

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She said: “Diversity in technology is no different. If companies want to develop the best ideas and deliver first rate solutions in the future, diversity is key.

“To achieve diversity we all need to do a better job of inspiring children, but particularly girls, from all backgrounds.”

She said the move is “empowering teachers to ignite curiosity for a career as technologists”. As part of the push there will be a schools-focused aspect to showcase to both boys and girls the careers available. Lesson plans are also online.

The campaign group said without action from school age to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse talent, the UK could lose its competitive edge on the world stage. It could also mean “creating inherently biased algorithms”.