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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10319: Annie Wells (Glasgow)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 14 July 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its response to statistics that suggest that women account for 18% of digital technology jobs in Scotland.

Answered by: Jamie Hepburn 3 August 2017

The Scottish Government recognises that there is a significant gender imbalance within this sector, this is a global issue across STEM professions that all major economies are attempting to tackle. We are not complacent however and we know we must continue to tackle it head on for inclusive growth.

As such ,through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership, the Scottish Government has made over £18 million available to help boost business’ and individual’s digital skills capabilities across Scotland Tackling the gender gap is integral to the partnership’s work and through the Digital Skills Investment Plan, have established a Gender Action Group and have published a gender action plan to tackle the gender gap in ICT subjects and careers.

The action plan is directed by research commissioned from Napier University, and launched on 2 November 2016. The plan’s actions focus on young women in education and those already in the workplace, or looking to return to work. Examples include; modules to promote flexible working practices to employers and the development of a mentoring framework for those considering, or looking to progress in, a career in tech.

To support an increase in the number of women in digital and the wider STEM professions the Scottish Government has established a Women Returners Programme, initially in the STEM sector, with £50,000 of funding via Equate Scotland. This project will allow women to get support in updating their skills to access the opportunities in this growing sector. Building on this, I announced additional funding of up to £200,000 and called for proposals to widen the initiative across sectors such as finance, where occupational segregation is a challenge.

In late April the First Minister announced funding of £500,000 for a Workplace Equality Fund to address long standing barriers in accessing the labour market. The aim of the fund is to reduce employment inequalities so that everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and improve Scotland’s economic performance. The Fund will support delivery of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government; Race Equality Framework; Disability Action Plan; and Scotland’s Labour Market Strategy.

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that both young women and men are encouraged to aspire to the full range of rewarding careers on offer to them in STEM.

We have published and consulted on our draft STEM Strategy for Education and Training which seeks to raise the level of knowledge and skills for all and provide opportunities to develop specialist skills for careers in STEM sectors.