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Tech Industry Is Missing 20,000 Black Women, Study Says

woman in STEM

"You have to get used to knowing that you are the only one in the room."

The technology industry is "missing" nearly 20,000 Black women.

A report from Coding Black Females perBBC News analyzed data through the United Kingdom's Office of National Statistics, and found that while Black women makeup 1.8 percent of the country's workforce, they account for only 0.7 percent of workers in technology positions.

Around 12,000 British Black women currently work in IT. To fix the disparity gap, an additional 20,000 would have to be hired, nearly double the existing amount.

The report asked 350 Black women about their experiences working in the technology industry. All felt that more needs to be done to encourage diverse applicants. Many described the experience of feeling alienated in their work.

"You have to get used to knowing that you are the only one in the room, on the team, in the project, at the conference. Sometimes it can become a bit challenging," Siba Munsanje, a software engineer at Deloitte, told CBF. "You can see people tiptoeing around you a little bit or making sad jokes—it's those little things that you have to put up with."

When it comes to IT leadership positions, women are also underrepresented. According to the report, women account for just 17 percent of directors in technology.

Charlene Hunter, chief executive of CBF, told BBC that women still face a glass ceiling when applying for work, and that diversity among managers and executives may ensure that bias-awareness is "included in every part of your design process."

"You hear often stories of people applying for roles and not really being given any actual feedback. You know you meet all of the criteria, but something doesn't quite feel right," Hunter explained. "We need senior leaders to match the large numbers of black women currently appearing in tech and engineering adverts, with genuine opportunities to progress into rewarding jobs."

Nimmi Patel, from trade association Tech UK, added that "clearly more must be done" by government officials and industry executives alike to engage with diverse communities.

She said: "Both industry and government should work together to inspire, educate, and attract diverse talent to ensure black women— and women in general— enter and progress through the industry."

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