$524 bn

Less than a third of STEM students in the UK are women or nonbinary

22 percent of the country’s tech directors are women

Closing the digital gender gap offers a $524 billion opportunity over the next five years.





Despite representing half the workforce, women hold just over a quarter of tech jobs globally.

The average gender pay gap in the UK stands at 11.6 percent

Only 0.3 percent of the total capital invested in AI by VCs was raised by all-women teams

Data point 5-10 word description here to support rich text data

Less than a third of STEM students in the UK are women or nonbinary

$524 billion
Closing the digital gender gap would represent a $524 billion opportunity for policymakers over the following five years.

Data point 5-10 word description here to support rich text data

Data point 5-10 word description here to support rich text data

Between 2012 and 2022, only 0.3 percent of the total capital invested in AI by VCs was raised by all-women teams

Let’s consider the fact that less than a third of STEM students in the UK are women or nonbinary. That just 22 percent of the country’s tech directors are women. And that everyday products, from the smartphones in our hands to the tools that track our health, have been designed for a man-shaped world. The gender tech gap is real, and it’s only getting wider.

Today’s technology landscape presents both a challenge and a massive opportunity when it comes to gender inclusion. The challenge is that as advanced tools like GenAI and automation enter the mainstream and set the pace of change in our societies, they are actually widening gaps that already exist in terms of who designs, develops, and uses the solutions at our disposal, what data is used to train them, which jobs they will displace, and who will be disproportionately affected as a result—namely, women.

However, on the other side of the coin, if tech can become a truly inclusive environment, this would unleash a new wave of economic potential as more women take their place as technology students, employees, consumers, and entrepreneurs, investing back in their families and communities, and helping technology to reach its full potential as a universal force for good. To put a figure on this, in 2021 the Alliance for Affordable Internet estimated that closing the digital gender gap would represent a $524 billion opportunity for policymakers over the following five years.

That’s why Kearney and UN Women UK have teamed up to kickstart a movement for change, bringing together our expertise in achieving lasting transformation with UN Women UK’s strength in championing gender equity across the public sector, private sector, and civil society. Our new report, Gap to gateway: diversity in tech as the key to the future, summarizes the work we have done to date to map the status quo of the gender tech gap, and sketch out the cross-sector solutions needed to bridge it, with specific and shared actions for players across the ecosystem. We also highlight examples of inclusion in action and inspiring ideas captured via this process throughout the report.

The gender status quo in tech

The results of a comprehensive literature review and a series of interviews with experts spanning the tech ecosystem—including designers, developers, and advocates for women in tech—revealed three key inclusion gaps across the tech landscape:

1. The gender-inclusive lens is missing in action

Women are vastly underrepresented in the technology ecosystem. Despite accounting for half of the working population, they make up just over a quarter of the tech workforce globally. And while the average gender pay gap in the UK stands at 11.6 percent, in the technology sector it is currently 16 percent. Women entrepreneurs also face an uphill struggle when it comes to funding. Between 2012 and 2022, only 0.3 percent of the total capital invested in AI by VCs was raised by all-women teams. But this isn’t a problem that starts in the workplace: it largely comes down to the fact that girls are not present in the STEM pipeline. In the UK, just 31 percent of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women or nonbinary, and fewer girls pick these subjects at school because there’s still a perception that they are more suitable for boys.

2. One size fits… some

In most walks of life, women continue to struggle with kit that doesn’t meet their requirements or preferences, because it has been designed with men in mind, fed by data that is typically and overwhelmingly about men’s experience. And when data about women is included in research studies, the results are often disaggregated by gender, meaning decisions about investment, research funding, testing, and development are flawed from the outset. These gaps have consequences, from the mildly inconvenient to the genuinely life-threatening, as revealed in Kearney’s recent report, Redesigning healthcare with women in mind, which confirms that women consistently experience significantly worse health outcomes than men. Inbuilt human biases are also making their way into advanced technologies like generative AI, skewing everything from credit scoring systems to recruitment processes and job adverts in favor of men

3. The disconnect doesn’t start—or end—with gender

Women also face additional barriers to accessing and using technology products, due to social characteristics other than their gender. As a few examples, while businesses with all-women founders received just 2 percent of all UK venture capital funding in 2021, an even smaller proportion went to black and ethnic minority-founded firms, while facial recognition systems have been found to produce consistently worse results for people categorized as “darker female.” Meanwhile, government statistics indicate that elderly people and those from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be in digital poverty, while people with disabilities are less likely to have essential digital skills for life.

Closing the gap

Having uncovered the scale of the gap, we went into problem-solving mode to uncover where innovation currently exists, what more can be done, and how action can best be directed by bringing more than 60 experts from across the tech ecosystem together at a design thinking workshop. It quickly became apparent that to make real progress and create the biggest impact, targeted, collaborative action will be needed in three core areas:

1. Filling the pipeline—getting women into tech

Key actions include:

  • Enhancing education—especially early education—to get more girls into the STEM pipeline and technology careers.
  • Stepping up training and resources for educators so they can teach tech-related subjects effectively in an engaging way.
  • Creating tailored support mechanisms, such as networking and mentorship opportunities, that help women in tech follow their ambitions and progress their careers.
  • Designing training and upskilling interventions across the professional life cycle, from project management skills to tech-enabled agile methodologies, and continuous professional development opportunities, in a way that enables more women to take advantage of them.
  • Addressing lingering sources of bias and dismantling unhelpful gender stereotypes to promote the mindset that STEM and the tech industry are genuinely open to all.
2. Fixing the workplace—supporting women in tech

Key actions include:

  • Designing tailored, unbiased recruitment strategies that aim to reflect the diverse societies we live in, and create inclusive pathways for women.
  • Improving access to funding and venture capital and providing enablers such as mentoring programs and technical assistance to ensure that women founders have a seat at the table.
  • Setting up smart retention strategies that attract women to the tech sector and create an inclusive environment where they are listened to, rewarded—and want to stay.
  • Making sure women have equal access to leadership positions and decision-making processes within organizations and in public-facing roles.
3. Making tech a universal force for good—getting tech to women

Key actions include:

  • Reimagining product design from end to end, recognizing and reflecting gender and the intersectional nature of individual identities.
  • Defining gender-inclusivity standards that give organizations a recognized stamp of approval for meeting diverse needs (like B-Corp certification).
  • Increasing access to tech so that all sections of society can benefit from it.
  • Building digital learning communities that provide relevant skills and capabilities, encouraging digitally disconnected individuals and groups to embrace the possibilities that technology and connectivity can offer.
Getting from aspiration to action

In parallel with collaborative action, we also identified individual actions for educators, tech companies and other employers, governments, community organizations, and investors and venture capitalists, which are detailed in the full report. However, in summary, all parties that touch the tech ecosystem can play their part to build and sustain diversity and inclusion, by:

  • Embedding women across the tech value chain
  • Collaborating through joint initiatives
  • Incentivizing gender-inclusivity
  • Balancing gender-neutral framing with inclusive design


Join us

We're spearheading a call to action for tech companies, employers, governments, and all other players with a connection to the technology ecosystem to come together and tackle the gender gap where it hurts most: in our education systems, in our workplaces, in the way we design technology products and services, and in the communities to whom access is currently denied.

We’re only at the beginning of this journey, and we’re looking for as many partners as possible to help us on our way. If you’re passionate about women’s place in tech and want to help build an inclusive sector that not only recognizes but actively embodies gender equity, we’d love to hear from you.

Glossary of terms

Algorithmic bias

Systematic and repeatable errors in a computer system that create unfair outcomes, such as privileging one arbitrary group of users over others.

Digital poverty

The inability to interact with the online world fully, when, where, and how an individual needs to, because of a lack of access or skills.

Gender gap

The difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes.

Glass ceiling

A metaphor that refers to the barrier that marginalized people and groups, such as women and other minorities, encounter when trying to advance their career.


The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as women and other minority groups.

Inclusive design

The design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible, without the need for special adaptation or specialized design.


The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender on individuals or groups, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Motherhood penalty

A term coined by sociologists, suggesting that in the workplace, working mothers encounter disadvantages in pay, perceived competence, and benefits relative to childless women.

Man-shaped world

A world designed and dominated by the perspectives and needs of the majority of men, often neglecting the needs and requirements of women and other marginalized groups, including some men who do not fit the majority view.

The authors would like to thank our Kearney team members Ridhi Thukral, Detria Williamson, Janine Bacher, Shruti Shivnani, Maxine Ansah and Mikhail Moudrakovski for their valuable contributions to this report. They also extend sincere gratitude to the following external collaborators who provided valuable insights and perspectives: Elaine Banton, 7BR Chambers; Kavya Kartik, Ada Lovelace Institute; Sunaina Aytan, Airbus; Orla Lavery, Alexandra Carello Consulting; Svetlana Maloney, Amazon; Sana Kaisar, ASC Harley; Rashada Harry, AWS; Effie Blankson, Basingstoke Unites Against Racism (BUAR), DuaPa Foundation; Dama Sathianathan, Bethnal Green Ventures; Ashleigh Ainsley, Colorintech; Bolanle Oyediran, CSW 67 Project Group (UN Women UK); Ekaterina Arzhevikina, CSW 67 Project Group (UN Women UK); Zeynep Eğin, CSW 67 Project Group (UN Women UK); Ree Chakraborty, Digilytics; Yosra Letaief, DotVector; Valeska Mangel, Epowar; Hephzi Pemberton, Equality Group; Avani Doel, EY; Sarah Forero, FHI 360; Bella Bekanova, freelance web developer; Karan Peer, GIST Impact; Sam King, GIST Impact; Snehal Bhosale, GIST Impact; Rumbi Mutenga, Glacie Health; Fiona Gillanders, Graphnet Health; Norvie Dzimega, Hatch Enterpise; Iulia Costinescu, Hatch Enterprise; Cecilia Verissimo, Hatch Enterprise; Lars Silberbauer, HMD; Kristina Huddart, Huddart Consulting; Satnam Deuchakar, IAMA &Fip; Joanne Kenney, ieso; Sade Turner-Moise, Impala Search; Richard Perry, Inbe Group Global; Abena Akuffo-Kelly, Kanea Consulting; Ekta Soni, LevelUP; Jennifer Orji, Meduneo; Maite Bikenge, Meta; Bruna Estevanin, Meta; Anja Thieme, Microsoft Research; Sophie Ghazal, Microsoft Research; Sehreen Qureshi, NatWest Markets; Kanika Joshi, Open Data Institute; Kanika Joshi, Open Data Institute; Ronda Železný-Green, Panoply Digital Ltd; Rita Kastrati, Pioneering People; Tania Carvalho, Powerhouse Consulting; Moyosore Kolawole, Rooted By Design; Saida Bairak, Saida Mia; Nikki Barr, Shell; Sophie Kasmi, Smith+Nephew, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; Susan Ren, Stacker Software; Penelope DSouza, Stimulus Limited; Katie Stewart, Surrey County Council; Aishwarya Shastri, The social talks; Anastasia Evans, Tik Tok; Sonali Joshi, Track VFX; Nicole Sedgley, Tuffin Ferraby Taylor; Antonte Semira, UN Women UK; Emma-Jane Hardy, BBC; Martha Bennett, UN Women UK; Hasreen Chadha, Visa; Ayan Said, Voicing Voices; Helena Corcoran, Westminster City Council; and Longtong Dafyak, Wood PLC.