A new report by digital recruitment agency The Candidate has highlighted a significant gender gap in the UK’s IT flexible workforce, revealing that twice as many male contractors are currently working in the sector than females.

Despite attempts to close the gap by introducing flexible working and pay policies, there remains a notable gulf in the number of skilled male and female freelancers being sourced by organisations; in addition, more men are taking up management roles, with the disparity equating to 156%.

The report was compiled by interviewing 150 digital businesses in the north of the UK and found that only 18 of these were currently being managed by a women. Females were most likely to be in a management roles in social media or marketing, public relations or communications, or account management.

These roles are often described as requiring soft skills, while more technical jobs are taken on by men. The study says that pay-per-click and search engine optimisation jobs remain out of reach for many women due a lack of relevant training and job incentives.

The Candidate managing partner Brian Matthews said: “In our report, we have outlined ways that we can change this to encourage more women into our thriving sector, such as implementing good flexible working schemes and closing crucial gender pay gaps. We also ask for education providers to be more encouraging when it comes to apprenticeships and work experience opportunities in digital.”

Mr Matthews went on to say that he hoped the report went some way towards unveiling some of the issues that could be holding the sector back.

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