Colour Splash Be-IT Blog

Sexism in IT in Scotland. The Report.

Sexism in IT in Scotland. The Report.

Posted on 26th November 2017

LinkedIn ShareShare

Be-IT sexism survey report in Sunday TimesIn May this year, we commissioned research into sexism in the IT industry in Scotland. We little realised what was to come in the next few months. Beginning with the infamous Google internal memo, followed by the much more serious revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey et al, instances of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by men towards women are now dominating the news agenda with new reports on a seemingly daily basis.

Our research was carried out between June and August by an independent third party, before the majority of these stories broke.  The purpose of our study was to get a snapshot of the extent of sexist behaviour within the IT industry in Scotland.  At this stage, we were not seeking to claim a causal link between any sexist behaviour we found and girls not wanting to study computing and develop a career in the industry, although clearly it would not be difficult to infer that this exists.

Although the research was finished some time ago, we then wanted to investigate some specific examples of the kind of behaviour that it exposed.  Here, we came up against precisely the problem that sits at the heart of our study.  There were several women we spoke to who had stories of sexism and inappropriate behaviour; however, none of them was prepared to go on the record.  “If I say anything it will ruin my career and I’ll never get a job again,” was one of the most telling quotes.  Although society’s attitudes to unacceptably sexist behaviour have begun to change, partly as a result of the huge publicity given in recent months to sexual harassment and sexist behaviour by celebrities and politicians of every stripe, we clearly have some way to go…

Today, we publish the full results of our research.  We are delighted to say that it has been picked up by the Sunday Times, who published an article today (26th November) highlighting the statistics and the attitudes behind them that our research uncovered.  Below, we have set out the key findings.    If you want to view the full report, click on this link

Be-IT Sexism in IT Survey: Summary of Results

53% of our sample were women, 47% men.

A comprehensive range of different job types was covered.

Management discrimination?

Only 28% of IT bosses were female: 72% were men.

Lack of female IT staff?
Over two-thirds of our female and male respondents worked in an environment where women made up less than one third of all staff. Over half (54%) of female and 48% of male respondents work in an environment where women are less than a quarter of all staff.

Only 12% of women worked in an environment where females were in the majority.  Fewer than 7% of men worked in an environment where women were in the majority.

Types of discrimination?

Virtually half (49%) of our female respondents believe they have been discriminated against at some time in their careers because they are a woman.

When it comes to specific types of discrimination, there is a huge gap between men’s and women’s views:

  • Only 3% of men said they have seen a situation where a man was given a job for which they thought a woman candidate was better qualified; in contrast 29% of our female respondents say they have seen this.
  • Only 3% of men said the workplace provides better facilities for men than women; 19% of women said they this is the case.
  • Some 6% of men said they had seen a woman being overlooked for promotion; 45% of women said they had experienced this.
  • 33% of men reported that they have seen men being better paid than women; 48% of women said this was their experience.

Reacting to discrimination

18% of women had taken further action to raise issues of discrimination.

Sexual harassment, attitudes to “banter”, treatment of women in the workplace

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of women said that they, or a female colleague, had been treated in a way they did not like.

Over one third (35%) of women say they, or a female colleague, have been subject to unacceptable sexual harassment. In contrast, over 85% of men said they had not seen this happen.

42% of women believe they are expected to put up with sexually explicit “banter” in the workplace. Conversely, 20% of male respondents said women do have to accept such behaviour if they want to succeed.

Male culpability

20% of men admit they, or any other male colleague, have discriminated against a woman during their career.

Women discriminating against men

Just over one fifth (21%) of our female respondents said that they have seen men discriminated against by women, yet over one third (35%) of men say they have seen this happened.

Pejorative Comments/unacceptable treatment

Regrettably, some of the comments following several questions suggest there are still major problems, whether from a small number of men towards women or from women describing totally unacceptable treatment from their male colleagues. For example:


“Oh dear... Women simply need to take more interest in technical or engineering when they're growing up.”

“They (women) have it easier.”


“Never, ever believed. My work/decisions frequently checked with a man, even if he is junior or not in my area. It seems a penis is the qualification needed to check if I am correct.”

“Asked if I was planning on any children”

“I've had my dress pulled down at a corporate event. I've had a client send me a LinkedIn recommendation which only appraised the size of my breasts.” 

As we said, there is some way to go…and we need to get there.

Gareth Biggerstaff, CEO, and Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT.

Posted in Opinion, Recruitment News

.. Back to Blog

Be-IT Accreditations
Cookies and Privacy on this website
We use Cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you wish you can restrict or block cookies by changing your browser setting. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.